A prestigious researcher in Saskatoon is being honoured for his achievements and leadership over the course of his career.
Dr. Andrew Potter may not be a household name but he should be after dedicating three decades to health research.
From avian flu, E. coli, swine flu to bovine tuberculosis and even the Zika virus, Potter has worked in some capacity on them all.
Pouring his heart and soul into both animal and human vaccine research, he served for 33 years as the director and CEO of VIDO-Intervac, a research organization at the University of Saskatchewan, also known as the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Organization-International Vaccine Centre.
In essence, the 65-year-old has been a pioneer of groundbreaking research on the Prairies whose achievements include more than 65 patents.
“I think Saskatchewan does get a bit of a bum wrap when it comes to science,” Potter said.
“But all you have to do is look at the fact we have two of the top 10 science facilities in Canada located in Saskatoon — the Intervac facility and the Canadian Light Source and that speaks to the quality of work going on here.”
Renowned worldwide, Potter has now received an award for a career’s worth of cutting-edge discoveries.
Chosen by a panel of local and national experts, he recently was given the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) achievement award.
“For the achievement award, you obviously need to have some good background of research in the province but also have a good track record of impact,” SHRF CEO Patrick Odnokon said.
“The impact that our research has is not just in Saskatchewan but it’s international.”
Potter’s revolutionary work has likely saved hundreds of animals from deadly diseases and possibly humans too.
“If we vaccinate cows for E. coli 0157 — how many human cases of disease does that actually prevent?” Potter remarked.
“The research by others is about 85 per cent but does that eliminate deaths? I don’t know — I hope so.”
Although this field is ever-evolving, there are two things that remain constant for Potter and his team inside the organization — that possibilities are endless and to never give up hope.
“It’s often said in science that the destination isn’t important, it’s the journey that’s important. The field that I work in, it’s actually the destination that’s important — it really is.”
Humbly, he says his greatest accomplishment and lasting legacy is the generations of researchers he has mentored.