Drs. Sally Otto and Pieter Cullis receive 2023 NRC Killam Prizes

The National Killam Program announced today the 2023 Killam Prize and Dorothy Killam Fellowship winners, recognizing the inclusive collaborators, research leaders and barrier breakers who are driving the future of Canada.

The recipients included UBC's Dr. Sally Otto, University Killam Professor and professor of zoology in the Faculty of Science as well as Dr. Pieter Cullis, from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Faculty of Medicine.

The Killam Prizes are awarded to active Canadian scholars who have distinguished themselves through sustained research excellence, making a significant impact in their respective fields of engineering, health sciences, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. A prize of $100,000 is awarded to each Killam Prize winner.

Health Sciences – Pieter Cullis, The University of British Columbia

Pieter R. Cullis, OC is a Director of the Nanomedicines Research Group, and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Cullis and co-workers have been responsible for fundamental advances in the development of nanomedicines employing lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology for cancer therapies, gene therapies and vaccines. This work contributed to five drugs that received regulatory approval by the FDA, the European EMA and Health Canada. One of the recently approved drugs enabled by the LNP delivery systems is Comirnaty, the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech that received regulatory approval in many jurisdictions including Canada, the USA, the UK and Europe. Comirnaty is playing a major role in containing the global Covid-19 pandemic with approximately 6B doses administered worldwide in 2021 and 2022. Dr. Cullis has also co-founded eleven biotechnology companies that now employ over 400 people, has published over 350 scientific articles and is an inventor on over 100 patents.

Natural Sciences – Sarah Otto, The University of British Columbia

Sarah (Sally) Otto is a Killam Professor and CRC Tier 1 Chair at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Otto is recognized globally for her many contributions to evolutionary biology. She has developed the mathematical foundation for the leading theory on the evolution of sexual reproduction in nature. Dr. Otto’s work has changed our understanding of the evolution of sexual reproduction and genome evolution. Dr. Otto is the world authority on a wide range of theoretical topics in evolution and has written the standard textbook on mathematical methods for ecology and evolutionary biology. Dr. Otto launched and directs the Liber Ero program, a Canadian-wide post-doctoral program supporting and developing leaders in conservation.  During the pandemic, she has been a co-leader of the BC COVID-19 modelling group and CoVaRR-Net’s ‘computational biology and modelling’ pillar. Dr. Otto’s research has resulted in 200 publications and a book, with ~25,000 citations.

Read full announcement