Partnerships put U of A on world map
The University of Alberta, together with the Alberta government, spent the last year securing two major international partnerships that pave the way for future collaboration in the research fields of energy, the environment and health care.
In early April 2011, President Samarasekera signed a research consortium agreement that formalizes the partnership of the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative—a collaborative research program developed in 2009 with the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, an umbrella organization representing 16 research centres across Germany—that looks at more sustainable and environmental technologies for Alberta’s oilsands. The Germans are combining their long history of developing coal-mining technology with the U of A’s oilsands expertise. The university has close to 50 oilsands research programs underway.
“With the legal framework of the agreement now in place, industry partners in the Canadian oilsands that have been watching our developing collaboration with interest will begin to add to the collaboration—heightening possibilities even further,” said Samarasekera.
This progress comes a year after the university took a big step forward in its efforts to treat and cure virus-based diseases, thanks to a $28-million gift from the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation and $52.5 million in new related funding from the Government of Alberta.
The donation—the largest cash gift in the university’s history—helped establish the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology and added the U of A to a global health-science research network facilitated by the Li Ka Shing Foundation.
Along with developing new drugs and vaccines, the institute will seek to attract significant private-sector collaboration with multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences companies.
“This generous gift, along with the funding from the Government of Alberta, represents a truly transformative moment in the U of A’s history,” said Samarasekera. “Our researchers have been at the forefront of virology research for decades. The Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology will provide a state-of-the-art home to some of the world’s very best researchers in virus-based diseases and will help place the university in its rightful place among top centres of such work.”