Helen Lee

Helen Lee, M.D.

Primary Affiliation: Equity, Justice, and Human Flourishing Working Group

Department of Anesthesiology, College of Medicine | University of Illinois Chicago

Skill Highlights

Pediatric Anesthesiology

Assessment of oral health behaviors

Evaluating safety of caries-related treatments


Awarded funding of $100,000 for a project studying Racial Equity and Justice in the State Courts During the Post-Pandemic Transition. The project will leverage and build on the COVID-19 and the Operations of Courts Project and what has been learned so far on the operations of courts and access to justice during the pandemic.
Professor Wilson received a $232,032 Templeton Religion Trust grant to support the Tolerance Means Dialogues initiatives.
Since January 1, 2019, Professor Wilson and a team of students have been supporting legislative efforts across the U.S. to provide patient protections around intimate teaching exams, which have resulted in 13 laws in 32 months, drawing on her Opinion-Editorial in the Chicago Tribune, #Just Ask: Stop Treating Unconscious Female Patients like Cadavers.
Assisted Utah Governor Gary Herbert and General Counsel Ron Gordon in crafting legislation banning gay conversion therapy through revisions to R156 concerning Commerce, Occupational and Professional Licensing, drawing from her article Being Transgender in the Era of Trump: Compassion Should Pick Up Where Science Leaves Off.
Assisted the Utah Legislature to craft its landmark antidiscrimination laws protecting both the LGBT and faith communities in a package of protections, drawn from Bargaining for Civil Rights: Lessons from Mrs. Murphy for Same-Sex Marriage and LGBT Rights, described in more detail in Common Ground Lawmaking Lessons for Peaceful Coexistence from Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Utah Compromise.
Assisted Senator Michael McLachlan, Connecticut State Senate, in codifying same-sex marriage with legislative protections for all, drawing from her work on Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts with Professor Douglas Laycock and Anthony Picarello. This effort resulted in religious liberty protections in 9 states and the District of Columbia. See, e.g., Connecticut (S.B. 899, 2009); District of Columbia (D.C. Law 18-110, 2009); New Hampshire (H.B. 73, 2010); New York (A. 8354, 2011); Washington (S.B. 6239, 2012); Maryland (H.B. 438, 2012); Minnesota (H.F. 1054, 2013); Rhode Island (S. 0038A, 2013); Illinois (S.B. 0010, 2013); and Hawaii (S.B. 1, 2013).
Assisted Rep. David Orentlicher, Indiana House of Representatives, in crafting child protection legislation (Indiana S.B. 311), drawing on her work on Sexually Predatory Parents and the Children in Their Care: Remove the Threat, Not the Child, in Handbook of Children, Culture and Violence 39 (Nancy Dowd, Dorothy G. Singer & Robin Fretwell Wilson, eds., 2006).
Assisted Representative James Smith, South Carolina House of Representatives, in crafting the Lewis Blackman Hospital Patient Safety Protection Act (South Carolina H.B. 3832). Professor Wilson partnered with Helen Haskell, whose fifteen-year-old son, Lewis Blackman, had died, to fashion a package of patient protections designed to avert tragic deaths, such as requiring health professionals to wear name tags identifying their role on the healthcare team and posting notices about how to reach an attending physician.
Partnered with Delegate Robert Bell, Virginia House of Delegates, to provide patient protections around intimate teaching exams, drawing on her article Autonomy Suspended: Using Female Patients to Teach Intimate Exams Without Their Knowledge or Consent and her testimony before the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice at the Joint Hearings on Health Care and Competition Law and Policy on June 10, 2003. From 2012 until 2019, the span of seven years, six states enacted similar laws requiring informed consent for intimate teaching exams.
Assisted Representative David Orentlicher, Indiana House of Representatives, in crafting child protection legislation (Indiana S.B. 194), drawing on Professor Wilson’s article The Cradle of Abuse: Evaluating the Danger Posed by a Sexually Predatory Parent to the Victim’s Siblings.



As a pediatric anesthesiologist, Dr. Lee’s clinical experiences place her in a unique position to inform research and interventions on surgical patients. Through clinical observations, she became interested in understanding the factors that contribute to poor oral health outcomes for  pediatric patients.  Childhood caries is a largely preventable disease process and use of operating rooms and associated resources can be an expensive, inefficient use of scarce resources. Her work outlines the limitations of health systems (e.g. emergency departments) and policies (access to preventive dental care or community water fluoridation) to improve a population’s oral health status. Pediatric dental surgeries represent great financial burden to Medicaid programs, with estimates for surgical procedures in hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers alone to be approximately $450 million per year.

Dr. Lee’s research focuses on the intersection of medicine and dentistry to assess inequities in the following areas:


  1. Developing and Testing Interventions to Change Oral Health Outcomes in High-Risk Children;
  2. Parental stress, parenting style, and caregiver support are critical factors in predicting children’s brushing;
  3. Pediatric Dental Sedation Safety: Risk Factors and Ethical Implications;
  4. Emergency department (ED) visits represent the intersection of inadequate access to timely, appropriate dental care and tertiary medicine; and
  5. Determining Factors that Influence Utilization of Services Within the Pediatric Dental Surgical Population

2008 – American Board of Anesthesiology Board Certified Consultant in Anesthesiology

2016 – American Board of Anesthesiology Board Certified in Pediatric Anesthesiology

2017 – PALS, ACLS/BLS certification

2019 – American Board of Anesthesiology Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology

Committee on Research, Society for Pediatric Anesthesia 


Strategic Planning Group, Society for Pediatric Anesthesia. 


Steering Committee, Women’s Empowerment in Leadership Initiative (WELI), Society for

Pediatric Anesthesia.


Site Director of Anesthesiology, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry


Committee on Admissions, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago

1997 – B.A., Wellesley College

1999 – M.P.H., Boston University

2003 – M.D., University of North Dakota


Johns Hopkins

Visiting Speaker on “Social Determinants of Oral Health in Children.” Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Johns Hopkins. Baltimore, MD, May 7, 2021

Case Western/MetroHealth

Visiting Professor: “Improving Outcomes for Surgical Patients.” Department of Anesthesiology, Case Western/MetroHealth. Cleveland, OH. March 16, 2021

Society for Pediatric Anesthesia

Panel Moderator: What Would SPA Members Do-Clinical Panel. Society for Pediatric Anesthesia. February 2021

American Society of Anesthesiology Conference

Panel presenter at the “Perioperative Implications of Anesthetic Induced Neuroinflammation.” American Society of Anesthesiology Conference in San Francisco California; October 2009

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Speaker at the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee’s Equitable Professional Advancement Workshop on Fostering Diverse and Inclusive Professional Development in Pediatric Anesthesia: “Barriers to Professional Success for Women and Underrepresented Minorities in Medicine.” Society for Pediatric Anesthesia, February 2021

Recent Publications

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2019: NIDCR Workshop, “Addressing Dental Fear and Anxiety: Steps Toward Accelerating Progress and Building a Cumulative Science.” Part of a seventeen-member panel of national experts invited by NIDCR.
2016-2018: UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science Affiliate Scholar/KL2. Two early investigators selected across the UIC Health Sciences to participate in a program of mentoring, career development, and other training activities over a three-year period.
2017: 17th Summer Institute on Randomized Behavioral Clinical Trials, National Institutes of Health: Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Office of Disease Prevention, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
2016: Department of Anesthesiology Rising Star, UIC College of Medicine



2020-2021 – Community Intervention Modifications for Low-Income Urban Families after COVID-19

NIH/NIDCR, UH3 DE025483-05 (PI: Martin)(Co-investigator)
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2017-2018 – Coordinated Oral Health Promotion (CO-OP) Chicago

NIH/NIDCR, UH3DE025483-01 (PI: Martin) (Senior Scientist)
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2017-2021 – Coordinated Oral Health Promotion (CO-OP) Chicago

NIH/NIDCR, UH3DE025483-05 (PI: Martin) (Co-investigator)
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2016-2017 – Understanding Dental Utilization for High-Risk Children

Mentored Research Training in Health Services Research, Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research, Role: PI
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