LLUAHSC Board of Trustees member wins Prix Galien Canada Research Award
Lorne Babiuk, PhD, DSc, member of the Board of Trustees for LLUAHSC since 2001, recently received the honor of being named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Lorne Babiuk, PhD, DSc, member of the Board of Trustees for Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center and University since 2001, as well as director of the University of Saskatchewan Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), has been named the 2005 recipient of the Prix Galien Canada Research Award, which honors the researcher judged to have made the most significant contribution to pharmaceutical research in the country.
The award, judged by an eight-person jury of leading university and industrial scientists in the pharmaceutical field across Canada, recognizes outstanding research in the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of diseases. The Prix Galien gold medal and plaque were presented to Dr. Babiuk at a gala ceremony November 16 in Montreal.
Dr. Babiuk, who holds a Canada research chair in vaccinology and biotechnology, was honored for his visionary research into the mechanisms by which infectious organisms cause disease and mammals respond to infection. By understanding these mechanisms, researchers can speed development of new ways to treat and prevent disease.
“Dr. Babiuk has been described by his colleagues as a research visionary,” says Jacques Gagne, president of Prix Galien Canada. “He has been a pioneer in bringing the importance of veterinary medicine and the link between animal diseases and human diseases to the forefront in Canada. His discoveries and impact on society have been significant.”
University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon noted that Dr. Babiuk’s ground-breaking research has greatly advanced the unique life sciences cluster of research facilities on campus.
“Not only has he expanded our understanding of biology, he has ensured through industry advancement that his findings benefit health. He is highly deserving of this prestigious award,” he says.
Dr. Babiuk is interested in “natural” immunity and its potential to improve vaccine efficiency and complement or replace antibiotics.
“The impact of his research ranges from the development of vaccines and technologies with potential to save thousands of human lives to those that contribute indirectly to human health by protecting the livestock upon which humans depend,” says Jim Blackburn, executive director of the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs, a U of S professor emeritus, and a member of the Prix Galien jury.
When few believed that biotechnology could fight infectious disease in the animal-health industry, Dr. Babiuk assembled and mentored a team of researchers that developed the world’s first genetically engineered vaccines for any animal species. He was the recipient of the first Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair in Biotechnology.
“This award is an exceptional honor and a testament to the tremendous researchers working at VIDO that have made our teamwork model so successful,” says Dr. Babiuk.
The Prix Galien caps an exciting year for Dr. Babiuk and VIDO. In March, the Canadian government awarded $24 million toward a new International Vaccine Centre to be built adjacent to VIDO by 2009. In June, Dr. Babiuk and his team were awarded US$6.9 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to develop vaccines for newborns. In August, Dr. Babiuk was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
The Prix Galien was created in 1969 by French pharmacist Roland Mehl. It was named after Roman philosopher and teacher Claudius Galenus, said to be the most distinguished physician of antiquity after Hippocrates. Countries currently awarding the prize include Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom.