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Pharmacy professor Lee dedicated to research

What is uncommon are the more than 823 articles Kuo-Hsiung Lee has written in his 45 years at UNC.

“Most of them are high-impact. This requires constant effort,” Lee said.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed; Lee was recently honored with the 2015 Ernest R. Volwiler Award, which is the highest research award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

Lee, who said he has never had an application for a research grant rejected, primarily researches HIV and cancer treatments.

He said helping people is what keeps him motivated.

“You are not going to produce something that doesn’t go towards helping people,” he said. “When you have this in mind, this job is quite enjoyable.”

Lee said working with such a high caliber of students also makes his projects easier.

“The students are usually number one in their class,” Lee said. “Working with them, you never feel as if you’re getting tired.”

Yu Zhao has worked in the lab with Lee and said he is an encouraging professor.

“If I have a question, I am always happy to discuss it with him,” Zhao said. “He respects the ideas of his students.”

Zhao said working with Lee has also helped her learn how to work with researchers of different backgrounds because he is constantly bringing other researchers from all around the world, especially China and Taiwan, into the lab.

“I know how to operate with other people, and this is very good experience for me,” Zhao said.

Lee said his lifestyle has no secret or complicated method.

“My life has been very simple: I wake up at 5:30 a.m. I do Tai Chi and I start to work,” Lee said, describing his daily routine for the past 45 years.

Lee also credited Susan Morris-natschke, fellow professor at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, to his success.

“She has been able to assist me for more than 23 years,” Lee said. “We make mission impossible become possible.”

Morris-natschke said Lee’s dedication is what sets him apart from most researchers.

“Dr. Lee is very productive and very intense,” Morris-natschke said. “He really, truly wants to do something to help his own mankind.”

Along with Tai Chi, Lee spends his time outside of work with his four grandsons. He also practices calligraphy.

“He keeps balance with hobbies that he enjoys and family,” Morris-natschke said.

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Lee didn’t always know he’d end up on this path.

“I was originally trained as a pharmacist in Taiwan,” Lee said. “I had the license but never practiced one day of pharmacy in my life because I changed my mind — I love research.”

To those who know Lee, the fact that he’s written 823 articles didn’t come as a shock.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he got to 1,000 before he decides to retire,” Morris-natschke said.