SFU scientists named 2014 Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Fellows
Two Simon Fraser University professors, Steven Jones, a pioneering bioinformatics expert, and Kelley Lee, a leader in the study of global health governance, have been inducted into the prestigious Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
In 1991 an insatiable desire to understand genetics motivated Steven Jones, then a Simon Fraser University student and currently an SFU professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, to pursue a master of science degree.
Now, 23 years later, the internationally recognized head of bioinformatics at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre (BCGSC) and SFU alumnus has become a Canadian Academy of Health Sciences fellow.
Having pioneered the development of faster, more accurate, next-generation computational approaches to analyze and interpret genetic information, Jones has helped map several high-profile genomes, including the SARS coronavirus and the human genome. His approach to bioinformatics is also helping to fight human cancer and environmental challenges such as the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
Generally speaking, his research uncovers how our genetic material influences our health either by propagating inherited disorders or by accruing genetic mutations in our cells during our lifetime — such as cancer.
“My research is now firmly entrenched in cancer genomics to understand the mutational landscape of cancer, says Jones. “I would like to develop methods that allow us to tailor therapeutic approaches to the specific genetic mutations that we observe in an individual’s tumour. Particularly exciting would be to discover specific mutations that can be exploited, somewhat like an Achilles Heel, by making a tumour profoundly sensitive to a certain drug.”
The former Sanger Institute researcher’s numerous previous award recognitions include:
“Canada’s Top 40 Under 40” award recipients
“It feels like this is the perfect homecoming,” shares professor Kelley Lee, associate dean, research, SFU Faculty of Health Sciences. “Having spent most of my career abroad, it is a privilege to be welcomed back by joining this remarkable network of highly accomplished Canadian health researchers.”
Prior to joining SFU, the renowned global health scholar spent more than 20 years at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she led the establishment of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Global Change and Health and chaired the WHO Resource Group on Globalization, Trade and Health.
Lee continues to be highly regarded for her work on the impacts of globalization on population health.
“Globalization has blurred boundaries and we need to change how we think about health determinants and outcomes,” says the researcher, who has been named one of Fifty Key Thinkers on Globalization.
“I want to continue documenting how health is a global issue, and study how collection action can be strengthened. The Ebola outbreak has shown that some infectious diseases can become transboundary risks and we need global health institutions that are well equipped to respond. My research not only identifies institutional shortcomings, but also puts forth ideas for making institutions better prepared to meet global health risks.”
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