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Frank Lee

Probing the science of mental health

September 17, 2008

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By Fiona Burrows

Frank Lee likes to pick at people’s brains. Studying the neurotransmitter dopamine, known to be involved in various mental health diseases such as schizophrenia, intrigues the assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences. During his PhD studies at the University of Toronto, followed with Harvard Medical School post-graduate work at Children’s Hospital in Boston, he studied the complexities of various neuropsychiatric brain disorders, including drug addiction.

Recently he has been investigating dopamine at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. "My interests lie in investigating how neurochemical imbalances occur by examining the biology of the proteins involved," says Lee. "By understanding how these proteins normally function, we can examine what goes wrong in these disorders or how to adjust the activity of these proteins towards developing better treatment."

Lee will start working later this semester in the mental health research laboratories in Blusson Hall. "I was attracted to the unique vision and great diversity within the newest faculty at the university," he says. "SFU is contributing to positive change in the world by providing quality education for students and supporting research."

Lee says it is important to look outside the laboratory walls and conduct collaborative research that ignites discussion of ideas, develops synergies and encompasses different perspectives about research. "On occasion, our research projects produce questions that may require experimentation and/or technologies that are outside our expertise."

He hopes his research will lead to more effective and specific therapies that have global benefits for those suffering from mental health disorders.
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