Dr. William Cochrane Health System Innovation Award

Nominate an Albertan whose innovation has transformed health care system and improved patient outcomes.

Important dates

Nominations for the inaugural Dr. William Cochrane Health System Innovation Award closed March 31, 2023.


The new Dr. William Cochrane Health System Innovation Award recognizes the contributions Albertans have made to transform the healthcare system and patient outcomes through innovation.


This award recognizes an individual or leader of a team who has made a significant contribution to health system innovation that has impacted patient outcomes, and who is actively engaged in research, development and scaling of health system innovations.

Health system innovation includes novel developments or changes that lead to improvements in care (improved outcomes and experiences) or efficiency (cost savings or avoidance) when compared to the status quo. The nominee can be engaged in advancing different types of innovation:

  • Product innovation involves the development of a new product (for example, device, medication, software), an improvement of the performance of the existing product, or adding a new feature to an existing product.
  • Service innovation involves developing a new set of behaviours, routines, and ways of working.
  • Process innovation involves improvements to organizational processes used to produce, deliver, or support a product or provide a service.

Eligible nominees can come from across clinical, research, and business backgrounds. The nominee(s) must demonstrate:

  • excellence as a scientist, clinician, and/or entrepreneur in the health sector
  • perseverance and ability to confront challenges, creativity in solving problem, overcoming roadblocks to innovation, respect and encouragement for colleagues
  • development of a ground breaking innovation that has been implemented or is close to implementation and is changing or has changed health care delivery and improved patient outcomes


To be considered for the award, a nominee must be:

  • a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, residing in Alberta with substantial roots in the province.

You cannot nominate:

  • yourself
  • someone who is deceased
  • an elected federal, provincial or municipal representative while they are in office
  • someone you are related to or a team leader if your relative is a member of this team

Award nominations can be made by individuals who are residents of Alberta.

Nomination process

The nomination period is now closed. Alberta Health is currently reviewing the submissions.

Step 1. Read the eligibility guidelines (above)

Step 2. Complete the nomination package

Complete and save the Dr. William Cochrane Health System Innovation Award nomination form.

Include the following documents in your nomination package:

  • 2 letters of support from at least 2 people who know and support your nominee’s achievements
  • the nominee’s resume

Step 3. Submit the nomination package

In the email subject line, put ‘Dr. William Cochrane Health System Innovation Award Nomination.’

  • Include the nominee's last name in the file name of the attachments.

Or mail your nomination package to:

Alberta Health, Research and Innovation Branch
13th Floor, ATB Place North
10025 Jasper Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB, T5J 1S6

Nominees and recipients

A selection panel consisting of health-care experts and business leaders will review the nominations. The panel will recommend a short list of candidates to the Minister of Health for final selection.

The recipient will receive an award recognizing their achievement and will be publicly announced.

About Dr. William Cochrane

  • Dr. William Cochrane

    Dr. William Cochrane

    Dr. William Cochrane’s career has spanned the fields of medicine, public service, biomedical research, education and business. As a young pediatrician, he had a strong interest in diabetes research, which led to the development of new diagnostic tests to identify and treat diabetes patients with varied needs. The Cochrane test for diagnosing L-leucine intolerance was a discovery he made before becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1956. This test, which is still in use today, identifies a type of hypoglycemia that is sensitive to protein intake.

    He was awarded the Borden Award of the Nutrition Society of Canada for his scientific research into metabolic diseases of children. This award was followed by many other honours later in life, including Order of Canada (1989), BioAlberta Association Award for his contribution to biotechnology in Alberta (2002), Alberta Order of Excellence (2006), and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (2010).

    Dr. Cochrane’s career is full of many firsts. During his time at Dalhousie University (1958 to 1967), he began the first cystic fibrosis clinic in the Maritimes, established the Atlantic Research Centre at the Dalhousie School Faculty of Medicine and arranged funding for the Isaac Walton Killam Hospital for Children.

    In 1967, he became the founding Dean of Medicine at the new University of Calgary (U of C) and later President and Vice-Chancellor. Thanks to his visionary leadership, thousands of individuals have access to a medical school that combines an innovative curriculum, with a focus on rural health and attention to matters that impact the health of Indigenous peoples. For his efforts to advance health care in Indigenous communities, Dr. Cochrane was made an honorary Medicine Chief of the Stoney Nation.

    Never far from centres of innovation, Dr. Cochrane later worked in the public and private sectors. He became Alberta’s Deputy Minister of Health in 1973-74 before moving into the realm of business as Chairman and CEO of Connaught Laboratories from 1978 to 1989. At Connaught, he championed a new strategy for the company that focused on genetic engineering. Guiding a company’s transition from a primarily university-based laboratory, into an international biotechnological success story. His strategy was to link government funding and university-based curiosity-driven research, with projects that had the ability to generate a return on investment in a market-driven economy.

    During his tenure with the company, Connaught became a major international developer of flu vaccines for the World Health Organization and other international health agencies. The company’s developments, which included insulin, plasma products and vaccines, served to improve the quality of life of people across Canada and around the world.

    After 10 years at the helm of Connaught, Dr. Cochrane took on new challenges as President of W.A. Cochrane and Associates. His unique blend of medical and entrepreneurial skills has helped many scientists move their biomedical research from the lab to commercial applications. Dr. Cochrane also advised the Canadian government on biotechnological advances and technology transfer, contributing to the creation of the first Canadian Strategy for Biotechnology, and the establishment the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research.

    While some might see his careers as a doctor and entrepreneur as being disparate, Dr. Cochrane described them as being dependent on one’s ability to ‘deal with people and keep the team balanced’, adding that his greatest satisfaction ‘comes from being connected to the success of others.’

    Dr. Cochrane died in 2017.

    Family and colleagues remember Dr. Cochrane as an avid learner. He loved challenging others and being challenged and engaged in professional development beyond retirement. He was always on the move and loved to travel because he believed in empathy and understanding a broad range of perspectives locally, nationally and internationally. Dr. Cochrane had a unique ability to envisage change and used his continuous learning to always make those changes into a reality for the better.


Connect with the Ministry of Health about the award:
Email: [email protected]