Honouring visionary members of the UBC community

Date: 14 November 2022

Location: Vancouver, BC & Virtually

UBC alumni are committed to an exceptional UBC and a better world. This November, at the annual alumni UBC Achievement Awards, presented by Boyden, we will honour seven inspiring members of the UBC community who, through their extraordinary endeavours, have demonstrated this vision.

The alumni UBC 2022 Achievement Awards Dinner and Auction is one of UBC’s marquee, must-attend events, and is led this year by gala chair Fred Withers, BCom’77, and honorary chairs Lindsay, BA’73, MBA’76 & Liz Gordon, BA’76. Tickets for this spectacular evening of celebration are now available for purchase. All proceeds from the silent auction will go to support Forward for Students: The Affordability Initiative.

The Awards gala will also be available virtually, free of charge. Advance registration is required for this option and a link will be shared with virtual gala registrants ahead of the event.

The 2022 Recipients

Dr. Pieter R. Cullis, OC, BSc’67, MSc’70, PhD’72 - Alumni Award of Distinction

The global spotlight shone on Dr. Pieter R. Cullis for his revolutionary work that made the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines possible. This triple alum is an international leader in developing and applying lipid nanoparticle (LNP) drug delivery systems to treat numerous diseases, including breast cancer, acute lymphocytic leukemia, fungal infections, rare genetic diseases and infectious disease.

Dr. Cullis is also the cofounder and former chairman of Acuitas Therapeutics, the company that supplied the LNP system incorporated in the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. He has cofounded more than 10 successful biotechnology companies that now employ more than 400 people in the Vancouver area. In addition, he has cofounded and led two National Centres of Excellence (NCEs), namely the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD; now AdMare) and the NanoMedicines Innovation Network (NMIN). AdMare is Canada’s lead organization for catalyzing the translation of academic discoveries in the life sciences into commercially successful drugs and devices whereas NMIN leads Canadian academic efforts to develop the nanomedicines (including the gene therapies) of the future.

He has published over 350 scientific articles, is an inventor on more than 100 patents, and his work has led to five products being approved by U.S. and European regulatory agencies for the treatment of cancer and its complications, a rare genetic disease, as well as the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. These advances stemmed from work in his UBC laboratory that has led to fundamental advances in the generation, loading, and targeting of lipid-based delivery systems for intravenous delivery of conventional and genetic drugs.

Dr. Cullis has received more than 20 local, national and international awards. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2004 and won the UBC Alumni Award for Research in Science and Medicine in 2005 and the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Bill and Marilyn Webber Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. As a result of the increasing recognition of his role in enabling the COVID-19 vaccines he was appointed an Officer in the Order of Canada in 2021, and was awarded the Prince Mahdol Award (Thailand), the VinFuture Prize (Vietnam), the Gairdner International Award (Canada), the Camurus Award (Sweden) and the Tang Award (Taiwan) in 2022.

Emma Houiellebecq, BASc’13 - Global Citizenship Award

What drives Emma Houiellebecq is her desire to help the humanitarian sector find innovative ways to bolster infrastructure and services in urban locales facing armed conflict, climate risks, and environmental degradation. Houiellebecq studied Civil Engineering as an undergraduate at UBC Okanagan, where she cofounded the UBC Okanagan chapter of Engineers Without Borders before serving as the Co-President of Engineers Without Borders in Vancouver after graduation. She was awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to undertake a Master of Philosophy in Engineering for Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge.

Houiellebecq has been working as an engineer in the international development and humanitarian sector across Africa and the Middle East. Most recently, she was working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in South Sudan and the Gaza Strip. As an ICRC Resilience Programme Advisor, she led the implementation of urban infrastructure projects in the Gaza Strip from 2019 to 2021. During the 2021 Gaza War, essential services strengthened by ICRC initiatives demonstrated greater resilience, resulting in less disruptions to the operations of hospitals, electricity supply, water and wastewater treatment plants. Prior to working with the ICRC, she was a Civil Engineer for the Africa Community Technical Services in Uganda.

After experiencing the challenges faced by the humanitarian sector when responding to complex crises, Houiellebecq decided to return to the University of Cambridge in 2021 to pursue a PhD on strengthening the resilience of urban infrastructure. She was awarded a second Gates Cambridge Scholarship to support her studies and will be undertaking her research in Venezuela and the Gaza Strip.

In her efforts to improve the lives of others around the world, she has joined collaborators in overcoming challenges by creating solutions that are achievable and sustainable.

Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin, MD’79 - Faculty Community Service Award

As a researcher and tenacious advocate for the welfare of individuals in prison and after release, Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin has garnered local, national, and international recognition.

Dr. Martin, a family physician who has worked in B.C.’s provincial correctional centres for 17 years, 1994–2011, has significantly deepened understanding of interactions between mental and physical health and connections with social responses, such as incarceration and health care.

She also introduced participatory health approaches to the correctional community. In 2005, she became the Inaugural Director of the UBC Canadian Collaboration for Prison Health and Education (CCPHE), a network of academic, community, and prison persons interested in improving the health of individuals in custody, their families, and communities. She introduced the concept of engaging women in prison, prison staff, and academics in participatory health research (PHR) to address concerns raised by the women themselves. More than 200 women in prison became members of the team and conducted 16 peer health surveys, hosted 10 health research forums, and developed 46 health educational presentations, as described in the book, Arresting Hope (2014, Inanna).

She became a Clinical Professor, UBC Faculty of Medicine, in 2006, and joined UBC’s School of Population and Public Health in 2010. Her combination of research, advocacy, and service represents some of the best ideals of population and public health, and her work reflects genuine compassion for her peers, colleagues, and community members.

Elaine A. Carty, CM, OBC, BN, MSN, CNM - Honorary Alumni Award

Overcoming controversy, resistance, and opposition, the courageous nurse and midwife Elaine A. Carty has been a pioneer in the practice of, research about, and advocacy for women’s health, and helped introduce midwifery into the Canadian health care system.

Beginning in the late 1970s, she worked with forward-thinking obstetricians and family physicians on pilot projects demonstrating safe maternity practice. She also conducted clinical research on innovative approaches to care during childbirth, built alliances across hospital and community care sectors, and reduced structural and attitudinal barriers to legitimizing midwifery. Her research focused on developing sensitive care for women with disabilities experiencing childbirth, midwives experiences of integration into the BC health care system, and images of women in pharmaceutical advertising.

In 2002, she established B.C.’s founding midwifery education program within the Department of Family Practice of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine. As the first director of Western Canada’s first formal midwifery program, she was involved in developing the admissions process, curriculum, and teaching environment.

Having devoted 50 years to lobbying for the recognition of midwifery, she has seen the profession become regulated in most provinces, including in B.C. as of 1998. Her leadership was instrumental in spreading midwifery services across B.C., which now has almost 300 registered midwives. The College of Midwives of British Columbia awarded her its inaugural Life Membership in 2005, McMaster University granted her an honorary Doctor of Science in 2013, the University of New Brunswick an honorary Doctor of Letters in 2022, and she was appointed a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of B.C. in 2017.

Her efforts will continue to provide healthy choices for women and families in B.C. and beyond.

Dr. Rosalin M. Miles, MHK’98 - Volunteer Leadership Award

The name of Dr. Rosalin Miles, a Research Associate in the Indigenous Health and Physical Activity program within the UBC School of Kinesiology and a member of the Lytton First Nation, has become synonymous with the promotion of physical activity within Indigenous communities. She practices reciprocity by volunteering in her community and at UBC, where she gives back as an Indigenous Scholar, Advisor, and Mentor.

Dr. Miles completed her Education, Doctoral Degree, in Curriculum and Instruction, and Exercise Science in 2005, with International Honours, and in 2003, her Graduate Certificate in Non-Profit Management both at the University of Central Florida. She obtained her Master’s degree in Human Kinetics, specializing in Coaching Science, and was the 1st First Nation kinesiologist who graduated from the UBC School of Kinesiology.

She has a combined 38 years of experience working in sports, fitness, education, and health as a coach, registered kinesiologist, Active Release Therapist, college and university instructor, researcher, Reiki practitioner, nationally awarded Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and as a national-level athlete.

Dr. Miles is the Founder and volunteer Executive Director of the Indigenous Physical Activity and Cultural Circle (IPACC), with which she has led eight National Indigenous Physical Activity and Wellness Conferences across Canada, and nine Active Spirit Walk and Runs with the Musqueam and the international virtual community. In 2019, she was nominated by Elder and past-Chief Gail Sparrow and was recognized by the House of Commons, Vancouver Quadra’s Hidden Hero Award for her dedication and leadership with the national non-profit IPACC.

In addition, she established four National Strength and Conditioning (NSCA) conferences at UBC and was the volunteer Provincial Director of the NSCA of B.C. and volunteered as a UBC Strength Coach for the Women’s soccer team for four years. She went on to work in two USA NCAA Athletics programs as Strength and Conditioning Coach. When she returned to Canada, she worked at the UBC First Nations House of Learning, and a School of Kinesiology sessional instructor.

She continued her career as an external evaluator of Indigenous organizations for Health Canada before she worked with Lytton First Nation as a Band Administrator. She continues to volunteer as a member of the College of Peer Reviewer of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Recently, she served on the 8th International Society for Physical Activity and Health Congress (ISPAH) and was the Chair for the ISPAH Pre-Congress Special Event dedicated to Indigenous Health and Wellness.

As a practitioner of bridging academia and Indigenous ways of knowing, Dr. Miles believes that education remains ongoing and giving back to community is the best way to share what is possible.

Dr. John L. Spouge, BSc’75, MD’79 - Research and Innovation Award

As a researcher who has achieved international status in several scientific fields, Dr. John L. Spouge’s special interest is formulating and solving difficult mathematical problems that have important biological applications.

Among his numerous contributions to socially important science, he has been a trailblazer in the application of probability and statistics to bioinformatics. He has also played an important role in international efforts to identify species with DNA barcodes, which can be applied to the conservation of species, the control of poaching, protection against pests at customs, and the detection of consumer fraud using substituted species.

Dr. Spouge graduated from UBC with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 1975 and a Doctor of Medicine in 1979, before obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics under John Hammersley at the University of Oxford in 1983. After a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Theoretical Biology group T-10, he joined the National Cancer Institute in 1985. After experience in the classical modeling of physical, chemical, and biological systems (particularly HIV infectivity), he became a founding member of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in 1989.

He has made fundamental contributions to NCBI such as developing statistics to facilitate database retrieval; has extensively collaborated with AIDS researchers to develop mathematical models to evaluate potential AIDS therapies; and has participated in the cataloguing of all plant species across the planet.

Kendra Alexia Louise Hefti-Rossier, BA’10 - Young Alumni Award

Kendra Alexia is Executive Chairman of the Abed Group, a family office whose primary operational pillar is an accelerator for blockchain regulatory technology companies. Alexia acts as interim CEO for several companies within the portfolio and sits as Executive Director of over a dozen companies including Satoshi.com and MSEZ.com. She has been working in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrency for six years having co-founded Deloitte Canada’s Blockchain Tax practice.

Alexia is a Board Member of Hut 8, which is Nasdaq & TSX-listed, and is one of North America’s largest, innovation-focused digital asset mining pioneers. She was the youngest person to join a Nasdaq board in the field of blockchain. Alexia is also an Advisor on the FinTech Advisory Board of the Government of Bermuda.

Previously Alexia was CEO of eGovern.com where she co-led the first government digital bank underpinned by blockchain. Prior to this, she worked in the field of international human rights and international criminal justice in Africa, the Middle East and North America for a number of organisations and governments, including the United Nations.

Learn more about the event here.

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