"In short, Michael’s thesis describes ground-breaking discoveries in an area of research that is of great interest to human health and, more specifically, the current pandemic."

Robert Britton

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Dr. Michael Meanwell receives Governor General Gold Medal

As one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Science, Dr. Michael Meanwell is recognized with the Governor General Gold Medal. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Meanwell on his outstanding achievements.

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July 19, 2021

Dr. Michael Meanwell has always been passionate about science and giving back to the community. Originally from Nanaimo, BC, Meanwell has been involved in several science outreach programs over the years including ones hosted by the University of Victoria, North Island College, and Genome BC. In 2015, he came to SFU to begin his PhD in organic chemistry under the supervision of professor Robert Britton. As a result of his studies  at SFU, his discoveries will continue to give back in ways he never imagined. 

Meanwell’s research undertaken for his thesis, A de novo nucleoside synthesis and late-stage heterobenzylic fluorination strategy, is published in top chemistry journals including Science, and has changed the way chemists make nucleoside analogues which are  among the most important small molecule drugs for treating cancer and viral infections. Meanwell simplified this process, reducing the time and cost involved in creating life-saving medications.  

Meanwell’s now patented and scaled-up discovery was partially funded through an NSERC CGS-D award and more than $1.5M in funding and collaborations with top pharmaceutical companies, including Merck and Hoffmann-La Roche among others.  

SFU professor Robert Britton supervised Meanwell for his studies and says, “In short, Michael’s thesis describes ground-breaking discoveries in an area of research that is of great interest to human health and, more specifically, the current pandemic.” 

“I was fortunate to have such a patient and enthusiastic supervisor to guide me in my studies. My time in the Britton lab really shaped me as both a scientist and a person. The SFU chemistry department overall is an excellent environment for learning and pursing solutions to real world problems,” says Meanwell.

Awarded both an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, Meanwell continues his work in the world-class laboratories of Professor Phil Baran at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.