Dr. Peter Zandstra appointed Member of the Order of Canada

Awards and recognition

Dr. Peter Zandstra appointed Member of the Order of Canada

It is with heartfelt congratulations that the Michael Smith Laboratories and School of Biomedical Engineering congratulate our Director Dr. Peter Zandstra for his recent appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada (C.M.). This honour is bestowed upon Canadians that “…make extraordinary contributions to the nation.” Since its inception in 1967, over 7000 trailblazing Canadians from all segments of society have been inducted into the Order for their impactful contributions to our country. Those inductees exemplify the Order of Canada motto: “DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (“They desire a better country”). In total, 135 new appointees to the Order were named for 2021.

Dr. Peter Zandstra was appointed to the Order for his “pioneering leadership in the field of stem cell bioengineering and its subsequent innovative health and economic impacts.” A passionate scientist and leader in his field, our community and at the University of British Columbia, Peter contributions to the biotechnology space and scientific education are profound.

With over two decades of groundbreaking work in the fields of biotechnology and regenerative medicine, this appointment recognizes both Zandstra’s accomplishments and the support of an inspiring community of researchers including Drs. Pieter Cullis and Connie Eaves, also appointed to the Order on December 29th, 2021. This milestone is a celebration of the larger UBC life sciences research community and its contributions to Canada.

“I’m excited to see Biomedical Engineering being recognized for its current and potential impact in Canada and abroad,” says Dr. Zandstra. “The appointments of Dr. Connie Eaves, a giant in stem cell and cancer therapy, as well as Dr. Pieter Cullis, one of the key scientists behind our ability to use mRNA technology in vaccine development, shows the impact of interdisciplinary research and education, and projects to the leadership that UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering and the MSL are building at the interface of engineering and medicine.”

Dr. Zandstra holds a BEng from McGill University, a PhD from UBC and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He joined UBC in 2017 from the University of Toronto and was appointed Director of both the Michael Smith Laboratories and the School of Biomedical Engineering. The Zandstra lab’s research is focused on the generation of functional tissue from somatic and pluripotent stem cells, using four integrated research pillars: (1) Multi-scale simulation of human tissue- and organo-genesis, (2) Synthetic control of cell fate and function, (3) Cell niche engineering, and (4) Cellular therapeutics.

In addition to the academic work and research Dr. Zandstra leads, he is the co-founder of the two biotechnology companies, ExCellThera and Notch Therapeutics. His novel approaches and significant contributions have garnered him many accolades including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, NSERC’s E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, appointments as fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

When announcing the new appointments on December 29th 2021, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, commented:

“Canada is defined by the people that make up this great country. These most recent nominees to the Order of Canada are shining examples of the commitment and outstanding contributions Canadians have made to the well-being of communities throughout this land, whether it be social, environmental, scientific, economic, cultural or related to mental and physical health. To all of the nominees, congratulations and thank you.”

The impact of Dr. Zandstra’s work and the UBC life sciences community is far reaching. Making important inroads with life-saving medical treatments for Canadians with chronic diseases, and striving to improve the lives of patients, we are grateful to be home to pioneering scientists like Dr. Zandstra.

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