Faculty Mentor of the Year Award: Todd Lee, College of Pharmacy

A man faces students in a conference room
Todd Lee, a professor in the UIC College of Pharmacy, is the recipient of UIC’s Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. (Photo: Martin Hernandez/UIC)

Todd Lee was on the path to becoming a pharmacist when a mentor guided him toward a better career fit as a research scientist. Now a mentor himself, Lee is committed to helping the next generation of pharmacy students discover their most personally rewarding career path. 

“Mentoring is the ultimate pay-it-forward activity, in my mind,” said Lee, professor and head of pharmacy systems, outcomes, and policy at the UIC College of Pharmacy. “I reflect often on my own mentors, and my hope is I’m having some similar influence on my students.” 

Lee is the recipient of UIC’s Faculty Mentor of the Year Award, a new award added to the UIC Research and Scholarship Annual Awards. As a mentor, Lee gives advice to his doctoral students to help foster their growth as scientists. 

What I’m most proud of is the careers that the students I have mentored have been successful in as they move their professional lives forward,” he said. 

Huiwen Deng, a doctoral degree candidate in pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy, was one of Lee’s mentees who nominated him for the award. Deng highlighted Lee’s supportive nature and thoughtful guidance as hallmarks of his mentorship style.   

“Dr. Lee ensures that his students are not only well-prepared academically but also equipped with real-world insights,” Deng said. “This guidance has been crucial in aligning my career decisions with my aspirations and personal values. Dr. Lee’s comprehensive mentorship, encompassing both personal and professional development, has significantly shaped my approach to the post-graduation job landscape.” 

In his research, Lee examines medication safety in large populations of people.  

“I identify previously unknown or unidentified adverse effects of medications and look at the tradeoffs — the risks and the benefits of certain drugs,” Lee said. “There are a lot of unknowns. The work I do is intended to fill in some of those unknowns and, ideally, make clinical decision-making more informed.” 

Lee said he feels fortunate to work in an environment at UIC that has helped him grow as a scientist and faculty member. 

“The collaborators that I’ve had within the university community have been fantastic,” he said. “The leadership in the College of Pharmacy is excellent and always looking for ways to help faculty achieve career-aligned goals.” 

Lee shared some advice for students considering careers as research scientists: “You have to be passionate about that career pathway and be fully invested in it. It’s really about knowing what you want to do and finding the right place to do it.” 

Read about other recipients of the 2023 Researcher, Scholar and Inventor of the Year awards this week on UIC today, with new profiles posted each day. On April 22, you’ll find coverage on UIC today from the awards ceremony.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email