2013 Winner: Outstanding Leadership In Alberta Science
Fighting To Keep Food Safe And Sustainable For Future Generations
Dr. Stephanie Czub takes the credit for finding and confirming the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 2003. As Canada’s foremost expert in BSE, her immediate and effective actions allowed the Alberta and Canadian governments and the beef industry to respond in a timely fashion while dealing with the devastation of market closures.
“It was a team effort in which many people played a part; I was involved mostly with the lab,” she says with typical humility. Dr. Czub acknowledges her role in context of the greater team and attributes her own role as public service.
“My job is to serve the public,” she says. “And that for me is one of the most important aspects in work doing I’m doing in science. I do whatever touches on the greater good of society.” She routinely opens her lab for students to visit and be introduced to science.
In spite of her modesty, Dr. Czub holds several impressive and demanding positions. She manages the prion, pathology, virology and wildlife disease units at Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Lethbridge. She’s also adjunct professor at the University of Calgary; and has engagements with World Organization for Animal Health and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Add to that her participation as one of four experts on the elite international Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) expert advisory group.
Dr. Czub’s research record is also outstanding. She carried out the first North American TSE experimental protocols in BSE and chronic wasting disease (CWD). Her ground-breaking research includes the understanding of which prion disease (i.e. BSE) manifests itself in livestock species and wildlife, and potential industry solutions to control or mitigate prion disease in livestock and wildlife.
And when she’s not behind the microscope she’s communicating. Following the diagnosis of BSE in the Canadian cattle herd, Dr. Czub continued to stridently defend and support ongoing research in international policy settings. She has produced 68 peer-reviews publications in scientific journals, authored one book, three book chapters and 96 abstracts and communications.
Right now, Dr. Czub is researching two unusual forms of BSE. Based on the research she and others have done, certain parts of the cow may not be to be sold for human consumption.
“It always goes back to food safety,” Dr. Czub says, looking to the future. “By 2050 we’re expecting to see a 70-per cent increase in the world’s population. We need to be able to sustainably feed them. That it’s an enormous challenge. I glad I am able to assist in helping keep our food safe.”
Like her heroes Alberta’s Dr. Bob Church and Nelson Mandala, Dr. Czub selflessly keeps her eye on the big picture, while emulating her father, also a veterinarian who was known for a job well done. Her dedication to the livestock industry and to securing Canadian market access has driven the pursuit of information and science-based policy development in scientific research in prion disease.
In 2012 Dr. Czub was awarded Queen’s Jubilee medal for her service to Canada.