Raymond “Sugar Ray” Lemieux: Health and Wellness
Although there was once a world famous boxer of the same name, this Sugar Ray fought in the research ring, not the boxing ring.
Dr. Raymond Urgel Lemieux devoted his life to education and research, and through his work, helped to shed some light and understanding on the once obscure science of carbohydrates.
Raymond Lemieux was born in Lac La Biche, Alberta June 16, 1920. When he was six years old me moved to Edmonton with his family. The family settled in the Boyle Street area, which was then a ghetto populated mainly by Irish, Ukrainian, and French immigrants. Raymond, a self-described "poor boy from the sticks", was brought up mostly by his oldest sister. His mother died when Lemieux was seven and their father was often out of town doing carpentry work. While attending school, Raymond found he really enjoyed chemistry, but like other young Canadian boys, he wanted to play professional hockey in the NHL. After less than a season with the Edmonton Junior Hockey League, he gave up his dream in 1936.
Raymond then began to pursue his other love, science. Four years after choosing a major in chemistry, he graduated with an honours degree from the University of Alberta in 1943. Lemieux then attended McGill University where he worked on and received a PhD in Organic Chemistry. In 1946, he was awarded a post-doctoral scholarship to study at Ohio State University, which is where he met his wife, Virginia (née McConaghie), with whom he had six children. There he laid the groundwork for his future career in research.
It was while working in Saskatchewan that Raymond and another scientist discovered how to synthesize sucrose, otherwise known as ordinary sugar. This breakthrough happened in 1953 while Lemieux was working for the National Research Council in Saskatoon. A year later, he was invited to help develop a new chemistry department at the University of Ottawa, and to serve as the Dean of Pure and Applied Science.
In 1961, Raymond finally returned to Edmonton to become a professor and chairman of the division of organic chemistry at the University of Alberta. Among other achievements, Lemieux was the first to synthesize oligosaccarides, a sugar that coats red blood cells.
Throughout his career, Lemieux established several biochemical companies including R & L Molecular Research Ltd., which he founded with his brother in 1962.
"The Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre" was unveiled at the University of Alberta in November 2001.
For more information on Synthetic Sugar please click the following link: Synthetic Sugar
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