Distinguished Researchers - 2008
Associate Professor of Sociology
The Distinguished Researcher Award recognizes a faculty member’s contribution to scholarship through creation, expansion, and critique of knowledge. Roanne Thomas-MacLean, associate professor of sociology, is the Fall 2008 award recipient.
Professor Thomas-MacLean has demonstrated that she is a major contributor to primary health care and women’s health research. Colleagues have described her as a leading researcher of her generation and an ambassador for the University of Saskatchewan.
This high praise results from unique research endeavors that address the struggles of breast cancer survivors, such as the Visualizing Breast Cancer project. This project asked Aboriginal women to photograph their breast cancer experiences in an effort to put new and more diverse faces on the disease. Impressively, the women from this study have met with breast health organizations to begin to create policies that recognize the needs of women diagnosed with breast cancer.
In another innovative study called Charting the Course of Arm Morbidity in Breast Cancer, Thomas-MacLean is focusing on the long-term impact of disability after breast cancer. With support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, she is working with 745 breast cancer survivors. According to her colleagues, it is generating worldwide interest as it is the largest arm morbidity study ever conducted.
These studies and new approaches to mixed-methods research have resulted in 15 peer-reviewed articles in prominent publications such as Social Science & Medicine, Oncology Nursing Forum, Canadian Family Physician and Qualitative Health Research. She has also contributed chapters to books on healthcare ethics, cross-cultural research, and women’s health.
Thomas-MacLean’s growing reputation as a prominent health researcher has been recognized by peers and national research agencies. The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, Ontario Women’s Health Directorate and Canadian Institutes of Health Research have recruited her to participate in a peer review committee and contribute to workshops.
Beyond research, Thomas-MacLean is known for mentoring students. She is supervising eight graduate students and participating in several graduate committees. Her graduate students are researching photovoice, ethnodrama, the meaning of work for physicians and young adults at end of life.
She began her academic career by completing a BA in sociology from Trent University. Following this, Thomas-MacLean completed a master’s degree and PhD in sociology at the University of New Brunswick. She then held a postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Western Ontario until she joined the University of Saskatchewan as an assistant professor in 2004.
Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
The Distinguished Researcher Award recognizes a faculty member’s contribution to scholarship through creation, expansion, and critique of knowledge. Wei Xiao, department head and professor of microbiology and immunology, is the Spring 2008 award recipient.
Professor Xiao is a significant contributor to the fields of DNA repair and cancer research. Colleagues from across the globe have described the microbiologist’s work as pioneering, seminal, and at the forefront of a new wave of DNA repair research.Xiao’s research has already garnered a National Cancer Institute of Canada’s (NCIC) Research Scientist Award and a spot on the Canadian Who’s Who list since 1996.
This praise is founded on years of ground-breaking research. For instance, Xiao discovered a pair of closely related genes called Beauty and Beast that may govern cancer development. Uncovering Beauty and Beast was later declared a “Milestone in Canadian Health Research” by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Xiao is also known for contributing to finding NEMO, a tiny protein that he once described as, “...an essential link in the chain of events resulting in the cells’ efforts to defend the vast ocean of the human body against invaders such as viral and bacterial infections.” Finding this immune response switch secured a place in a 2004 issue of the renowned journal Nature.
More recently, Xiao published a paper in the prestigious research journal Cell identifying a 9-1-1 signaling complex that cells can use to initiate an SOS response in their fight against carcinogens.
Fellow researchers in the field have already lauded this breakthrough, indicating they have awaited it for over 20 years. It is no surprise, then, that this summer Xiao will share his discovery at the prominent Gordon Research Conference on Mutagenesis at Oxford University.
Throughout his career, Xiao has joined with researchers from across Canada, the United States, France, China, Australia, and Japan to author more than 70 articles in peer-reviewed journals. His collaborative work has appeared in notable publications such as Cell, Nature, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, Journal of Cell Biology, and Plant Cell.
Xiao has also contributed to the scientific community by serving on grant review committees for NCIC, CIHR, and the International Union Against Cancer.
He began this remarkable research career by earning a B.Sc. from Nanjing Agricultural University in China, a M.Sc. from the University of Toronto, and a PhD from the University of Saskatchewan. Following his PhD, he served as a research fellow at Harvard University’s School of Public Health.
Xiao has helped young scholars find similar academic success by supervising 19 post-graduate theses and a number of postdoctoral fellows.
As both a researcher and teaching professor, he has also guided many undergraduates toward research careers, including more than 25 summer students. His expert guidance was recognized by these same students when the College of Medicine Graduate Student Society gave him the Supervisor of the Year Award in 2007.