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DNA Artisan: Hanadi Sleiman, Nanotech researcher (in Canadian Chemical News, May 2011)

Hanadi Sleiman’s tastefully decorated office at McGill University’s Department of Chemistry is dominated by a large picture window revealing the spires and rooftops of the 190-year-old Montreal insti- tution. Displayed on the windowsill are several DNA knick-knacks:

Francis Crick and James Watson bobble head dolls and a model of the iconic double helix. “This model of DNA is accurate down to the structure of nucleotides and bases,” Sleiman says, contemplating the intricate model.

DNA — its mystery, its still-untapped potential for scientific innovation — has long fascinated Sleiman who, as a post-doctoral student, studied under French chemist Jean-Marie Lehn, winner of the 1987 Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in supramolecular chemistry. Sleiman and her research team, which works out of a bright, airy new laboratory in McGill’s Otto Maass Chemistry Building, is expanding upon Lehn’s work, focusing on the supramolecular chemistry of DNA. Backed by a number of funding agencies, including NSERC, the Sleiman Research Group uses the unique chemistry of DNA to design new nanomaterials for drug delivery, diag- nostic tools and anti-tumour therapeutics. “It’s not just the molecule of life — now wecan do something with it. It’s the difference between studying what’s there and making your own versions of it,” Sleiman says. Read article