New VIDO Director Named

May 17, 2007

Andrew Potter, an internationally recognized authority on vaccine development, will become the new Director of the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) starting July 1, Vice-President Research Steven Franklin announced today.

Potter, who is currently VIDO’s Associate Director of Research and Chief Scientific Officer, succeeds Lorne Babiuk who is taking up the Vice-President Research position at the University of Alberta.

"With the growing threat of emerging disease in both animals and humans, the U of S is extremely fortunate to have someone of Dr. Potter’s calibre to lead VIDO and soon InterVac (International Vaccine Centre) as these world-class labs assume an increasingly important role in the development of Canada’s national infectious disease-fighting strategies," said Franklin.

"He will be responsible for both VIDO and InterVac which are expected to become the research centrepiece of the proposed U of S School of Public Health."

Dr. Potter is renowned for his visionary research into how bacteria cause disease and for his groundbreaking projects at VIDO that have generated ‘world firsts’ in disease prevention and more than 40 patents for animal vaccine development and therapeutics.

He initiated VIDO’s partnership with the University of British Columbia in developing the world’s first vaccine to protect food and water fromE. coliO157, and was the first to develop a licensed animal vaccine through the use of biotechnology. He holds an NSERC Senior Industrial Research Chair in Food Safety.

"Andrew Potter is an outstanding choice as the new director of VIDO," said Brian Perkins, Chair of the VIDO Advisory Board. "His leadership will help continue the tradition of addressing the needs of the livestock community and furthering VIDO’s contribution to human health."

Babiuk said he is delighted that Potter has agreed to take on the challenge of shepherding VIDO/InterVac at this important stage of its evolution.

"Andrew is very familiar with the requirements for maintaining an effective team culture in a complex environment, bridging the academic and commercial arenas, and ensuring that investments in research benefit society," said Babiuk. "In my view, this is an absolute requirement for success in this era."

He noted that Potter has fostered linkages with researchers in other Canadian universities and with industry in order to enhance the capacity of Canada’s infectious disease research community.

"This is an honour and a challenge," said Potter. "My colleague and mentor Lorne Babiuk will be greatly missed. But VIDO—and soon, InterVac—will continue to meet the challenge he set for us: to protect humans and animals from infectious disease, the most deadly scourge on the planet."

Potter spent his undergraduate years at Carleton University and earned his PhD in microbiology in 1981 from the University of Otago (New Zealand). He joined VIDO in 1985 as a research scientist after being recruited by Babiuk from Health Canada in Ottawa. His initial interest was in how pathogens cause respiratory disease in animals.

He currently runs a successful research program well-funded by competitive grants at the national level. Recently, he has been working on the application of genomics to the animal health field, as well as forging links between the animal and human infectious disease research communities to ensure that technologies common to both fields can be used.

He has mentored more than 30 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who currently hold positions in industry, academia and government worldwide.

Potter has served on a number of public and private sector committees, and has been instrumental in transferring VIDO technology from the laboratory to the private sector, as evidenced by numerous license agreements negotiated over the years. He interacts frequently with major animal health companies and serves as a consultant to numerous smaller ones.