Fritzler, Dr. Martin

2012 Winner: Outstanding Contribution To The Alberta Science And Technology Community

Shaping The Alberta Science And Technology Community

As a builder and leader of organizations, Dr. Marvin Fritzler has devoted his tremendous talents and outstanding skills to help shape the Alberta science and technology community that exists today.

Like so many brilliant minds, Dr. Fritzler was inspired by a handful of mentors at various stages of his career, who opened doors to new challenges, through which he strode to do science and build communities.

Among them is Dr. Bob Church, Professor Emeritus of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Calgary, under whose pivotal guidance Dr. Fritzler honed his research skills and began taking his work beyond the research bench into public policy and strategy.

“Dr. Church broadened my perspective of science and technology beyond being the biomedical domain to include energy, water, information and communications, agriculture and forestry,” says Dr. Fritzler, Professor of Medicine and Arthritis Society (Canada) Research Chair at the University of Calgary. “It has been a very exciting and rewarding path.”

Leader in Alberta

Dr. Fritzler was named Board Chair of the Alberta Science and Research Authority in 2004. In 2010, when the Alberta government introduced transformative changes to the innovation system to be more competitive in the global economy, Dr. Fritzler was selected as the chair of the newly created Alberta Research and Innovation Authority, and remains in this role. He has also served on numerous other academic, community and government committees and boards, throughout his career.

“My most important accomplishment is the impact I’ve had on the Alberta community in helping to shape and position science and technology to enhance the economic performance and social security of the province,” he says.

Important Institutions 

Among Dr. Fritzler’s proudest achievements, was his involvement in creating Genome Alberta and the Alberta Prion Research Institute (APRI). Since 2005 APRI has supported top researchers working on the scientific and socioeconomic challenges associated with prions and other diseases of misfolded proteins, which are causative agents of diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or ‘mad cow’ disease).

“The impact of this is huge. Alberta has enriched the global understanding of the conditions that cause the disease,” Dr. Fritzler says. “Moving ahead, we can work on other diseases, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s that share features of misfolded proteins found in BSE, and affect humans.” APRI is among the world’s top centres in prion and other diseases of misfolded proteins.

Dr. Fritzler has conducted his own research program, making new discoveries in what causes disease and taking them to global clinical practice. He also founded a small diagnostic service company and has published more than 320 papers and book chapters.

The Future of Alberta

Mentoring young scientists keeps Dr. Fritzler optimistic about the future.

“What keeps me going is the enthusiasm and intelligence I see in the young people today — both on the research bench and in policy development,” Dr. Fritzler says. “They are very bright, have a global view of the issues and are committed to being globally involved and integrated.”