Alberta Glycomics Centre awarded top Canadian prize for interdisciplinary research

Five senior members of the Alberta Glycomics Centre have received the prestigious Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering from the Natural Science Engineering and Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Elizabeth Nanak - 27 February 2012

Five senior members of the Alberta Glycomics Centre have received the prestigious Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering from the Natural Science Engineering and Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Drs. David Bundle, Todd Lowary and John Klassen (pictured) from the Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta along with their colleagues Drs. Ken Ng, Department of Biological Sciences and Glen Armstrong, Department of Microbiology at the University of Calgary were recognized for their collaborative contributions to novel strategies in combating infectious diseases such as E. coli, tuberculosis and Clostridium difficile, a major killer in hospitals.

The Brockhouse Canada Prize recognizes outstanding Canadian teams of researchers from different disciplines who have combined their expertise to produce achievements of outstanding international significance in the natural sciences and engineering in the last six years.

"Investing in science and technology has a direct impact on our quality of life," said the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology). "The accomplishments of these winners demonstrate how these investments benefit Canadians and our economy."

"We are extremely honoured and proud to receive NSERC's premier award for interdisciplinary research. The award validates the support and investment of the University and province of Alberta in creating the Alberta Glycomics Centre", said Dr. Bundle, founding Director of the Centre.

"Dr Armstrong, Dr Klassen and I started our collaboration in the mid 1990s and in 2002 we were joined by Dr. Lowary and Dr. Ng. Beginning in 2002 more targeted research became a reality through generous funding from Alberta Innovates Centres program.

"Our initially esoteric studies of how proteins such as antibodies and toxins bind to human or bacterial carbohydrate antigens, illustrates the crucial role of NSERC's Discovery Grants Program in creating the research environment for breakthroughs that may lead to practical applications. The support of the Universities and province of Alberta made it possible for us to take these basic discoveries further and build on the critical mass of glycomics expertise that resided here, a legacy of the late Professor Raymond Lemieux."

Part of a provincial platform strategy focused on the areas of Omics, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Nanotechnology, this achievement by the Alberta Glycomics Centre team is a clear point of pride.

"Alberta is working to find solutions to the major challenges facing the global community - solutions related to health, food safety, the environment and energy," said Greg Weadick, Alberta's Minister of Advanced Education and Technology. "We're attracting the best and brightest minds in research and innovation, as evidenced by the Alberta Glycomics Centre team, to help us find those solutions."

"This award would not have been possible without the strategic vision and investment of the province of Alberta in promoting research and development," said Dr. Gregory Taylor, Dean of the Faculty of Science. "The Alberta Innovates Research Centre program has not only created the suitable environment to advance multidisciplinary research but has also helped in the recruitment of highly promising scientists such as Dr. Todd Lowary, the current Director of the Centre."

This is the first time that the honour is awarded to a research group from Alberta. The Brockhouse Canada prize includes a $250,000 team research grant.

About the Alberta Glycomics Centre

The Alberta Glycomics Centre (formerly known as Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Carbohydrate Science) is an Alberta Innovates Centre for Research and Commercialization. The Centre uses glycomics* to address complex health issues by exploring novel strategies to lead the development of new vaccines, diagnostics and other medicinal applications. Some of these novel applications include strategies to combat tuberculosis, Clostridium difficile, and other infectious diseases and foodborne pathogens. More information can be found at

*Glycomics is the study of the role of carbohydrates and carbohydrate-containing biomolecules in biological systems. Carbohydrates play a critical role in many biological processes including biological recognition, cell-to-cell interaction, immune response, infection and inflammation. It is anticipated that the Glycomics field will lead to the development of new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics.

About the Alberta Innovates Centres for Research and Commercialization

The Alberta Innovates Centres for Research & Commercialization bridge the well-established research equity in Alberta's universities, to Alberta's key industrial sectors of energy and the environment, bio industries and health. The Centres are collaborative hubs where Alberta's top researchers address pressing industry problems, support company R&D and train Alberta's top students, providing a strong platform for Alberta's place in the global economy.

The Centres for Research and Commercialization are supported by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, which plays a vital part in building healthy and sustainable businesses in Alberta.