EDMONTON, Alberta–(BUSINESS WIRE)–BioAlberta announced the induction of Sir Michael Houghton into the Alberta Bioindustry Hall of Fame, as well as the recipients of its 2021 Achievement Awards in recognition of the outstanding contributions of the individuals and companies whose innovation and achievements have contributed to the growing success of Alberta’s life sciences sector. The awards were presented at BioAlberta’s Policy Forum and 2021 Awards Gala, held in Edmonton on March 22.

“We are honoured that Sir Michael Houghton has accepted our invitation to enter the Alberta Bioindustry Hall of Fame. His commitment to research excellence led to the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus, which allowed for screening tools that eliminated Hepatitis C from our blood supply. His research at the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute puts Alberta at the forefront of research,” said Robb Stoddard, President and CEO of BioAlberta.

Accepting this award, Sir Michael Houghton, said: “Thank you very much to BioAlberta for this high honour. Alberta has already made substantial contributions to healthcare advances but with the continued support of BioAlberta and our provincial and federal governments in research commercialisation and manufacture, I am convinced that our excellent academics, trainees and biotech companies can in the future generate a quantum jump in producing many more much needed medicines along with a thriving and major industrial economy for the province and for Canada.”

The Alberta Bioindustry Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made extensive and tangible contributions to the Alberta life sciences community. This work can be in scientific achievement and research, industry development, public policy, education and ambassadorship. Inductees are selected by the Board of Directors based on the notable impact of an individual’s work or lifetime achievement. Recipients are known to be passionate advocates for science and technology, accomplished scientists, business leaders and mentors whose dedication left an indelible mark in the life sciences sector.

BioAlberta Annual Achievement Awards

“Our life sciences sector is growing by leaps and bounds, and our 2021 award winners exemplify Alberta’s capacity to accelerate drug discovery and development, pivot their business generating real-world solutions with global impact,” said Robb Stoddard, President and CEO of BioAlberta.

2021 Company of the Year – Providence Therapeutics Inc

This award acknowledges a company that has shown significant achievement within the marketplace and Alberta’s business community through strong performance or a leadership role.

“Providence Therapeutics Inc. is a true leader in Alberta’s life sciences ecosystem,” said Robb Stoddard, President and CEO of BioAlberta. “It’s an honour for us to recognize Dr. Jared Davis and the Providence team for their ability to pivot from their traditional oncology focus toward development of a made-in-Alberta COVID-19 solution.”

Since its incorporation in 2015, Providence Therapeutics has focused on oncology research and personalized cancer therapies. However, when the COVID-19 crisis hit, Providence pivoted from its original mission in oncology, devoting its energy, knowledge, and resources to creating a world-class mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. From the Health Canada approval of their phase 1 clinical trial of PTX-COVID19-B in December 2020, it was only 10 months later that Providence Therapeutics announced a licensing deal with Everest Medicine for its mRNA vaccine candidates, plus deals with Northern RNA to provide critical raw materials and Emergent BioSolutions to manufacture its vaccine at their Winnipeg facility.

Accepting the award on behalf of his team, Dr. Jared Davis, President of Providence Therapeutics Inc, said: “It is an honor to be recognized as the BioAlberta company of the year. This award represents years of dedication hard work and determination by the Providence team. Providence Therapeutics looks forward to continuing fruitful collaboration within the Alberta biotechnology ecosystem in the years to come.”

2021 Scientific Achievement and Innovation – Dr. Ratmir Derda

This award recognizes an individual or a team responsible for a breakthrough innovation with commercial application.

“Dr. Ratmir Derda’s use of proprietary algorithms and machine learning to accelerate drug discovery is providing new and better drug leads for therapeutics, imaging and diagnostics. His company, 48 Hour Discovery builds on long standing expertise at the University of Alberta in the fields of glycomics and machine learning,” said Robb Stoddard, President and CEO of BioAlberta.

In 2018 Dr. Derda founded 48Hour Discovery, which offers rapid discovery of pharmaceutical leads in the space of days rather than months. The company’s technology platform, based on five patents developed by Dr. Derda, combines proprietary algorithms and unique billion-scale DNA encoded molecular libraries, to accelerate drug discovery to find new and better drug leads for therapeutics, imaging and diagnostics. The company builds on long standing expertise at the University of Alberta in the fields of glycomics and machine learning.

Accepting this award, Dr. Ratmir Derda said: “It is an honour to have my research and translational work to be recognized by BioAlberta. The Derda Lab in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta and the UofA biotech spinoff 48Hour Discovery Inv have been actively expanding the use of DNA-encoded technologies for discovery of molecular interactions, reactions and drug lead candidates. With these efforts and support from the university and provincial stakeholders we hope to position the UofA, the province of Alberta and Canada on the world arena of biotechnology innovations. This award will help us to continue our growth alongside other research groups and pharma/biotech companies that combine the power of DNA and Chemistry to yield important advances in fundamental areas like protein-ligand interactions, glycobiology and reaction discovery as well as translational advances in the areas of drug lead discovery for clinically-important targets that cannot be addressed by traditional drug discovery technologies. The advances that led to this award would not be possible without long-term, generous support from federal grants (NSERC, CIHR, IRAP), provincial funding (Alberta Innovates), our supporters at numerous pharmaceutical companies and research initiatives like GlycoNet, Canadian Glycomics Network.”

About BioAlberta

BioAlberta is the voice and champion for life sciences in Alberta, committed to creating a thriving and competitive industry by facilitating and accelerating economic diversification, investment attraction and job growth.

As a private, not-for-profit industry association, BioAlberta represents more than 230 members of Alberta’s growing life sciences community of researchers, producers and suppliers operating in specialized sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, natural health products, as well as environmental, agricultural and industrial biotechnology. BioAlberta’s activities are focused on advocacy, promotion and proactively facilitating growth of the industry. Please visit: https://www.bioalberta.com/


BioAlberta: Robb Stoddard, President and CEO