University of Saskatchewan Professor Emeritus Lorne Babiuk has been awarded the prestigious Canada Gairdner Wightman Award in recognition of his accomplishments over three decades that include leading the U of S Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) to become a world centre for vaccine research, training and development.
Next to the Nobel Prizes, Canada Gairdner Awards are considered the most important international biomedical honors. In fact, one in four past recipients has gone on to receive a Nobel Prize. Babiuk, currently vice-president research at the University of Alberta, has been honored with the $100,000 Canada Gairdner Wightman award, a special award to a Canadian who demonstrates "outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science through his/her career."
Babiuk, who earned three of his four degrees from the U of S and served as a U of S Canada Research Chair, is cited for "extraordinary national and international leadership in vaccine development and research on human and veterinary infectious disease control."
"Lorne's creative and resourceful leadership-the hallmark of University of Saskatchewan research-has led to many vaccine and infectious disease discoveries that will have an impact on improving animal and human health for decades to come," said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research.
"His work and its continuing legacy are helping to put the University of Saskatchewan-already home to veterinary, agricultural and medical schools-at the forefront of integrating human, animal and ecosystem health to address threats to the 'one health' we all share."
With 36 issued patents and 13 pending, Babiuk led a VIDO team that developed six livestock vaccines that were world firsts, including the world's first genetically engineered vaccine for an animal species. Known for applying animal research to human diseases, he created a vaccine against rotavirus in calves that enabled researchers to later develop a vaccine against the viral bowel infection in children.
Babiuk was lead investigator on a $5.6-million (U.S.) Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenge in Global Health grant to develop a single dose, needle-free vaccine against whooping cough in infants and young children. U of S research is now underway to apply this new vaccine delivery technology to other diseases.