Dr. Patrick Lee
Dalhousie Medical School, Cancer
Dr. Patrick Lee is an internationally recognized leader in the field of cancer research. He was recruited to the Faculty of Medicine to spearhead growth and development of the Dalhousie Cancer Research Program. Dr. Lee’s own research on reovirus convinces him that we can kill cancer and cure people.
Dr. Patrick Lee was the Cameron Chair in Basic Cancer Research, learning not all viruses are bad. Some viruses have therapeutic potential, as Dr. Lee discovered when experiments in his lab revealed that the common reovirus infects and kills cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Reovirus is now being tested against a variety of cancers in clinical trials.
“Reovirus is proving to be a powerful agent that can kill cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, ovary and brain, as well as lymphoma and melanoma,” says Dr. Lee, an internationally known cancer researcher. He had moved to Halifax from Calgary to accept the new Cameron Chair in Basic Cancer Research in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine. This research chair was funded through an outstanding $13 million bequest to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation.
As Cameron Chair, Dr. Lee helped focus and advance the Dalhousie Cancer Research Program. He built expertise in cell signalling and cancer metastasis. “Cancer kills when it spreads,” he says. “We want to find a way to stop it.”
In his own lab, Dr. Lee looked at how and why reovirus targets and kills cancer cells, and not healthy ones. “If we can find out what proteins, pathways, and steps are involved, this knowledge will inform future cancer therapies based on reovirus,” he says.
Dr. Lee is also on the trail of a tumour suppressor protein called p53 that protects DNA-damaged cells from becoming cancerous. Dr. Lee hopes that learning how p53 works in healthy cells, and why it loses its protective function in cancerous cells, will point the way to a cancer cure.