University of Calgary

Passion and perseverance pays off

UToday HomeNovember 6, 2012

University of Calgary researcher Dr. Marvin Fritzler took the top honour at the prestigious Alberta Science and Technology Leadership (ASTech) Foundation annual awards gala.

Fritzler, one of four researchers from the university to be recognized by the ASTech Foundation at a ceremony in Edmonton last weekend, started his medical career at the University of Calgary, where he completed a PhD under the supervision of Dr. Bob Church and then was a student in its second medical class. Fritzler continued to a distinguished career as a biomedical researcher and is now the chairman of the Alberta Research and Innovation Authority as well as a professor in the Faculty of Medicine, where he holds the Arthritis Society Research chair.

“I feel humbled, because the two co-honourees Dr. Greg Taylor from the University of Alberta and John Masters, who was the CEO at the Alastair Ross Technology Centre and founded Innovate Calgary – plowed the furrow for me,” says Fritzler, who was chosen in the category Outstanding Contribution to the Alberta Science and Technology Community for his work in shaping Alberta’s innovation system. “I had the easy task of walking behind them.”

Many of the researchers honoured spoke about their passion, perseverance, and courage for taking risks as well as making sacrifices.

Dr. Gregory Cairncross, the former head of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary, compared scientific discovery with golf: You have to work hard, but sometimes you get lucky.

“On any given shot, I might be good as the very best golfer in the world, because I was lucky,” says Cairncross, referring to his work on a cancer treatment that doubles survival time of patients with a certain type of brain tumour.

“But mostly, I think it’s hard work and it pays off in the end,” adds the scientist who recently published a paper on an experiment which took 20-years to conduct.

The two other University of Calgary finalists are John Chen of the Schulich School of Engineering winning the Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology award, and Dr. Breanne Everett, president and CEO, Orpyx Medical Technologies and executive MBA student at the Haskayne School of Business ,winning the Leaders of Tomorrow award.

Ed McCauley, the University of Calgary’s vice-president (research), who presented the award to Fritzler at the gala, noted with pride the innovative work being done at the University of Calgary as it works towards its goal of becoming one of Canada’s top five research universities by 2016, fully committed to teaching, research and creating important applications for the community.

“One of our roles as a research university is to create new knowledge and translate our discoveries into benefits for our communities and for society, and our nominees and award winners at ASTech 2012 are outstanding exemplars of this role,” says McCauley. “The research our faculty and students conduct at the University of Calgary has already changed the world and will continue to do so.”



Dr. Gregory Cairncross - Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Science

Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Dr. Zhangxing (John) Chen - Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology

Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
Director of the Foundation CMG/Frank-Sarah Meyer Collaboration Centre
NSERC/AERI/Foundation Computer Modeling Group (CMG) Chair In Reservoir Simulation
iCORE Industrial Chair in Reservoir Modeling

Dr. Breanne Everett - Leaders of Tomorrow

President and CEO, Orpyx Medical Technologies

Executive MBA student, Haskayne School of Business

Dr. Marvin Fritzler - Outstanding Contribution to the Alberta Science and Technology Community

Chairman, Alberta Research and Innovation Authority

Professor of Medicine and Arthritis Society research chair



Christian Jacob and the LINDSAY Team
Department of computer science, Faculty of Science
Department of biochemistry and molecular biology, Faculty of Medicine

Bruce Jamieson, Thermal Imaging in the Seasonal Snowpack
NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) research chair in snow avalanche risk control
Department of civil engineering 
Schulich School of Engineering

John Masters
Past president and CEO, Innovate Calgary

Anthony Russell
Professor of zoology, biological sciences

Dr. Pere Santamaria
Professor and director, Julia McFarlane Diabetes Research Centre, and department of microbiology, immunology & infectious Diseases
Scientific founder and chief scientific officer, Parvus Therapeutics Inc.

Christopher Skappak
PhD student, department of paediatrics, University of Alberta
Second-year student, School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Jillian Stephenson and the University of Calgary Solar Team
Communications manager