Leonard Foster can thank his great aunt and mother, who touted natural remedies for everything from nurturing gardens to healing sore throats, with making him into the scientist he is today. Foster, 34, a UBC department of biochemistry and molecular biology assistant professor, is the subject of a glowing story about his achievements in a recent edition of The Scientist.
The former McBride man was in Prince George on Oct. 25, 2008 to give a talk to beekeepers at the annual Honey Producers conference about his $2.8 million research project backed by Genome B.C. He and his fellow investigators, Dr. Stephen Pernal of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Dr. Katherine Baylis from UBC, will develop a set of tools to identify disease resistance in natural bee populations.
They will use the bee genome to identify molecular markers of resistance to mite and bacterial infections by analyzing different bee populations. The project, funded in part by UBC and other interest groups, is expected to take three years to complete.
In the meantime, Foster has been recognized for his work in The Scientist which, according to his German mentor Matthias Mann of the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry, is quite a feat for one so young.
“Congratulations on your profile in The Scientist,” Mann wrote. “This is well deserved and very unusual for such a young scientist.”
He also won praise from Sheilagh Foster, who told the Free Press that her son’s interest in science began at an early age.
“Leonard took part in science fairs in McBride, Prince George (CISE) and Canada Wide Science Fairs for all of his high school years.”
The feature article by Elie Dolgin outlines studies done by Foster and notes that for his PhD, Foster investigated intracellular trafficking of the insulin-regulated glucose transporter, GLUT4 at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
The author writes: “Although his graduate work focused on the cell biological minutiae of the transporter, he was already thinking on a larger scale, says his PhD mentor Amira Klip. Leonard was always included to the quantitative analysis of any observation.'”
The average person may not understand the scientific terminology but they can appreciate his success in the world of science. In 2005, Foster started up his own lab at UBC and last year received the grant to study the proteins involved in honey bees’ innate resistance to mites, viruses and bacteria. The story about Leonard Foster can be found in Volume 23, Issue 1, page 50 of The Scientist or read the story online at The Scientist.com.