The Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute (AVI) at the University of Alberta will receive $20 million in funding over four years. The funding will accelerate leading-edge research and commercialization of pharmaceutical and vaccine treatments and build on Alberta’s successes, such as the recent announcement of a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for Dr. Michael Houghton, a researcher at the Li Ka Shing Institute.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated more than ever the need for health research and domestic development of treatments for illnesses. Supporting a strong pharmaceutical and life sciences industry in Alberta will attract additional investment and talent to the province, encourage the growth of spinoff industries, and create jobs right here in Alberta.
“Alberta has always led the way on innovation and new ideas. The pandemic has shown us that we need to build on our home-grown strengths. The work of world-class researchers like Michael Houghton at our state-of-the-art universities means we have an incredible advantage. This investment shows that Alberta is making a real contribution to the global fight against COVID-19 and other viral diseases.”
“We’re unleashing our world-class research universities to boost our expertise to not only find cures, but commercialize and manufacture them here at home. With this funding, the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute and the valuable work that they do will grow and diversify the economy and pave the way for our innovators and emerging sectors to grow and succeed.”
“Alberta is home to world-class universities, researchers and educators that continuously work to improve the lives of Albertans. This funding will ensure critical health research that is developed here in Alberta can continue and help solve everyday challenges.”
“I want to thank the Government of Alberta. This $20 million investment builds on an incredible history of provincial support for the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology. Because of that, Alberta is poised to play a leading role in the development of a thriving biotech sector in Canada that can develop and commercialize vaccines and other therapeutics, saving millions of lives here and around the world.”
“This is outstanding news! I thank the Alberta government for this funding to the Applied Virology Institute which will improve healthcare, strengthen the biotechnology industry, help diversify our economy, and create valuable jobs for Albertans.”
“I would like to thank the Alberta government for continuing to support our programs within the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute that are aimed at achieving major medical innovations, better health care and expanding the Biotech industry sector within Alberta.”
The AVI is a commercialization centre within the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology at the University of Alberta and supports the development of new vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Some therapies currently under development at the institute include a hepatitis C vaccine, human cytomegalovirus antivirals, and therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease. Recently, the AVI secured more than $5.8 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to develop anti-viral drugs, vaccines and diagnostics in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Houghton, director of the AVI, is the recent joint-recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition of his work discovering the hepatitis C virus and developing key diagnostics for hepatitis C. This is Canada’s second Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The first prize was awarded in 1923 for the discovery of insulin.
Alberta’s Recovery Plan is a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build, diversify, and create tens of thousands of jobs now. By building schools, roads and other core infrastructure we are benefiting our communities. By diversifying our economy and attracting investment with Canada’s most competitive tax environment, we are putting Alberta on a path for a generation of growth.
- Alberta’s pharmaceutical and life sciences industry is the fourth largest in Canada, following Ontario, Quebec and British Colombia.
- Alberta has more than 200 life sciences companies – 60 per cent of which are in the medical technology and devices, health biotechnology and pharmaceuticals sectors.
- Last year, Alberta’s pharmaceutical and life sciences industry attracted $430 million in capital investment, generated $824 million in revenue, and supported over 15,000 high-paying jobs.
- Worldwide revenues for the pharmaceutical and therapeutics sector reached $1.25 trillion in 2019, and are projected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2023.
- The Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute was established at the University of Alberta in 2010.
- The institute is developing anti-viral drugs and vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The funding will continue the institute’s mandate of commercializing research in life sciences and biotechnology in fields ranging from synthetic chemistry to virology and immunology.