Our greatest fundraiser Steve Lee lost his fight on 31 January this year, but his work lives on in a laboratory in East London, where research fellow Seble Lemma (pictured right) is investigating a compound known to kill mesothelioma cells, thanks to money raised by Steve, and funded by a fellowship named in his honour.
Kimberley Stubbs said: “Steve was such a positive person, facing his illness with dignity and determination to raise as much money for mesothelioma research as possible. And boy did he do well!
‘With his beloved wife Ros always by his side, Steve raised over £55,000, with friends and colleagues from the Reading Roadrunners Club supporting him throughout.”
Steve and Ros were delighted to meet Seble’s PhD supervisor Dr Adrian Dobbs of Queen Mary College, University of London last year, and learn as much as they could about the project.
He wanted to hear first hand about the world’s first study into a compound (called JBIR-23) which has been shown to fight mesothelioma cells. A former journalist, he asked many questions, reassuring both himself and Ros that the results of their fantastic fundraising efforts were being well spent.
“We saw at first hand the huge love and affection in which Steve was held at the Roadrunners annual dinner last year,” added Kim. “He was a remarkable man, he will never be forgotten, and he leaves behind a legacy for others – just what he wanted to do.“
Ros joined trustees Kate Hill and Vanessa Bridge for an update from Dr Dobbs and Ms Lemma at QMC in May this year. The project is going well, with work due to be completed on synthesising the first parts of the JBIR-23 molecule; they will be handed over for testing to molecular biologists towards the end of the summer to see how effective they are in killing mesothelioma cells.
Adrian Dobbs’ professional interest in mesothelioma began in personal tragedy; he too, lost his father to the disease, following his exposure to asbestos as a civil engineer on visits to underground tunnels in London. Dr Dobbs said: “At this time, towards the end of the 1950s, people were working without any protection against asbestos at all, despite the risks – it’s awful to think about that.
“Ever since I became a chemist I have been looking for ways of using my knowledge in the fight against mesothelioma, so I am honoured to be involved in this project.”