We may have a reputation for a number of things (Hockey, Maple Syrup, Tim Horton’s to name a few), but one often overlooked element of what makes Canada so unique is our rich legacy and history in the biotechnology sector. This week, biotech pioneers across the provinces are coming together to celebrate the 11th annual National Biotechnology Week, and as a nation, we’ve got a lot to celebrate!
As BIOTECanada points out, biotechnology is “in our DNA,” an especially appropriate note given that it was a Canadian scientist who first isolated these building blocks of humanity in 1943. Other major Canadian biotech milestones include:
- Discovery of insulin in 1922
- Licensing of the first polio vaccine in 1955
- Development of an early form of canola in 1974
- Winners of a Nobel Prize in 1986
- Facilitators of the world’s first biofuel jet test in 2012
As this list clearly demonstrates, biotech innovations have had a wide-reaching impact across a variety of industries. Of course, for the health sector, biotech isn’t just engrained in our past, it’s also our future. So called ‘big molecule’ biologics are changing the face of health systems around the world and paving the way for personalized care.
So why does this matter? Well for one, these approaches and methodologies could make an extraordinary difference in our ability to care for an aging population. Indeed, by preventing or limiting costly hospitalizations and managing illness through targeted biologics, we can greatly improve quality of life for the individual and pass savings onto the health system overall.
As my colleagues in Europe recently shared, the biotech sector has proven itself as a driver of sustainability, now we need to raise awareness. Learning about the value of biotech, and understanding how it can help us create a more productive and sustainable health system and economy, can only help us grow.
So this Biotechnology Week, take a moment to educate yourselves and others on the enormous value this sector presents to our national, and the global economy.