GlycoNet announces new Directors to the Board

GlycoNet News Staff • Posted: October 8, 2020

Five new members from diverse backgrounds are elected to the Board.

EDMONTON, ALBERTA (October 8, 2020) – The Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet), a Canadian leader in glycomics research, is pleased to announce the appointment of five new Board members: Drs. David Rabuka, Donald Sheppard, Lisa Kalynchuk, Samuel Abraham, and Walter Dixon.

“I am delighted to welcome such accomplished individuals to our Board,” said Ms. Karimah Es Sabar, Chair of the GlycoNet Board of Directors. “As GlycoNet enters into a new cycle of 3-year funding from the NCE, I believe that their track-record and expertise in translational research and technology commercialization will be strong assets and will enhance the Network’s ability to provide tangible commercialization outcomes to the Canadian economy.”

Dr. Elizabeth Nanak, CEO of GlycoNet added, “The GlycoNet leadership team truly looks forward to working closely with our new Board members. As the Network works towards its legacy, I am confident that their impressive collective experience will be an invaluable addition to the team to consolidate Canada’s international position in health innovations through glycomics.”

Ms. Es Sabar continued, “On behalf of the entire GlycoNet team, I want to thank Drs. Lynne Howell, Joy Johnson, Digvir Jayas, Thorsten Melcher, and Matthias Ruth for their years of service on the Board. Their support and guidance were critical to GlycoNet’s operation, and their insights have enabled us to translate the promise of glycomics research into a growing pipeline of novel technologies, vaccines and  drug candidates, and diagnostics for people living with chronic and acute diseases like cancer, neurodegeneration, infectious diseases, and diabetes, just to name a few.”

Newly elected Board members include:

David Rabuka, PhD, Founder and CEO of Acrigen Biosciences, a company developing safe and efficient methods for gene editing therapy, is an accomplished national and global executive with extensive experience in the life sciences industry. Prior to founding Acrigen, David was the Global Head of Research and Development, Chemical Biology, at Catalent Biologics, overseeing research and development of biotherapeutics, as well as strategy, resource allocation, scientific oversight of preclinical and clinical studies. He joined Catalent Biologics following Catalent’s acquisition of Redwood Bioscience Inc., where he was founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer.

Donald Sheppard, MD, PhD, Director of McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity, leads the Medical Mycology laboratory and practices clinical infectious diseases at the McGill University Health Centre. As a recognized international scholar, Dr. Sheppard’s research focuses on the development of novel therapies that target microbial polysaccharides. He has published over 100 research papers and book chapters and has delivered over 150 invited lectures worldwide. Dr. Sheppard is the recipient of numerous awards including a Clinician-Scientist award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, a Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and a Research Chair from the Funds de Recherche Sante Quebec. He is an elected fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the American Academy of Microbiology.

Lisa Kalynchuk, PhD, Vice President Research at the University of Victoria, is an internationally respected leader in science research and innovation. Through years of leadership as the Associate Vice President Research at the University of Victoria and Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Health Research in the Office of the Vice Provost Health at the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Kalynchuk was responsible for advancing knowledge mobilization and supporting research policies and procedures that meet the highest ethical and regulatory standards. In addition, she has led several major planning exercises including an academic program prioritization process, and the implementation of institutional and cultural changes required to transition the research facility into an interdisciplinary environment.

Samuel Abraham, PhD, Strategic Advisor to Western Economic Diversification, has more than 20 years of experience in intellectual property (IP), operations, and strategic partnerships. He has held various leadership positions in the healthcare sectors including Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals, BC Cancer Agency (BCCA), and Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). During his time with BCCA and PHSA, Dr. Abraham led 350 inventions disclosures and 180 patent applications, negotiated multi-million-dollar research collaborations between BCCA, PHSA, and pharmaceutical companies, and managed the development of several spin-off companies through securing industrial partnerships, mentoring scientists, as well as recruiting senior management. He also developed IP policies and ethical frameworks for addressing ownership and commercialization practice of genomic biomarkers and other seminal or platform developments, not only at BCCA and Genome BC but also nationally through a variety of mechanisms and internationally through the OECD. He currently serves as a Board member at Inspire Health, the Institute for Health Systems Transformation and Sustainability, and the Vancouver Prostate Centre.

Walter Dixon, PhD, Interim Vice President Research and Innovation at the University of Alberta, has earned a reputation for being an effective leader and team player, having built strong relationships through various research portfolio, including the various Departments at the University of Alberta: Research Services Office, Research Ethics Office, Postdoctoral Fellows and Academic Visitors Office, Field Research Office, Environmental Health and Safety, Risk Management, Advanced Research Computing (ARC-IST), as well as TEC Edmonton. On a provincial level, Dr. Dixon has worked collegially with partners in the ministries of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism (EDTT) and Advanced Education (AE) and in government agencies such as Alberta Innovates and Alberta Health Services. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences (PIMS), Genome Alberta, and TRIUMF.

About GlycoNet
GlycoNet is advancing research, innovation, and training in glycomics to improve the quality of life of Canadians. GlycoNet is a one-stop global destination focused on developing new carbohydrate-based drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, in collaboration with academic and industry organizations to address areas of unmet need through applied glycomics research. Funded by the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program and a range of partners, the network includes over 150 researchers across Canada who focus on cancer, chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. This national platform supports translational research, protection of intellectual property, novel drug development, company formation and training.

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Ali Chou
Communications Associate
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