Dr. David Evans and Dr. Randall Johnston join Bertech Pharma’s Scientific Board of Advisors

Bertech Pharma Ltd. announced today that Dr. David Evans and Dr. Randy Johnson have joined its Scientific Advisory Board.

“The addition of Dr. Evans and Dr. Johnson to Bertech’s Scientific Board of Advisors brings significant scientific experience to Bertech and will assist in moving its cancer development programs forward,” said Mr. Bern Philip, President and CEO of Bertech Pharma. “Dr Evans and Dr. Johnson are leading researchers and will provide Bertech with the indepth knowledge and insight to facilitate it moving forward with its cancer diagnostic development program..”

About Dr. Evans

Dr. Evans is a virologist with a special interest in the biology of poxviruses. He has a long-standing interest in the mechanism of viral genetic recombination and the enzymatic links between virus recombination and DNA replication. His work has generated new insights into the mechanism of poxvirus recombination as well as a better understanding of the mode of action of drugs that inhibit poxvirus recombination by interfering in Orthopoxvirus DNA replication. Such drugs are being stockpiled as potential smallpox therapeutics. In collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Oncology, Dr. Evans is also exploring the application of poxviruses as oncolytic agents. Many of these studies are facilitated through collaborations with American, Canadian, Chinese, and European partners and are currently supported by grant funding from NSERC, CIHR, and the Alberta Cancer Board. He has published some 70 primary research papers on these and related topics.

Dr. Evans’ investigations into the mechanism of poxvirus recombination led to the isolation of a vaccinia virus enzyme that catalyzes recombination reactions in vitro. This method has been patented in the USA, Europe, and Asia and is sold under license to Clontech-Takara as InFusion® kits. This “recombineering” technology has found its greatest application as a tool for high-throughput cloning of PCR-amplified DNA.

Dr. Evans obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in 1982 and, after post-doctoral studies in Berkeley and Harvard, joined the Faculty of the University of Guelph in 1987. He assumed the Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics in 1998 and served in that position until moving to the University of Alberta in 2003 to become Chair of the Medical Microbiology & Immunology Department. From 2009-12 he also served as Head of the School of Molecular Medicine. At the University of Alberta he has recruited 10 new Faculty and Faculty Service Officers to date (including Dr. M. Houghton, the new Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology) and led a pan-provincial application to the CFI that resulted in the 2006 award of $24.9 million for a project entitled the “Alberta Institute for Viral Immunology”. In 2010 the University of Alberta was given a gift of $25 million to support additional research in virology and Dr. Evans currently serves as the associate director in the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology. He has accumulated many years of service on NSERC and CIHR panels, including over a decade of service on “Virology and Viral Pathogenesis”, served on several NIH panels, and is a voting member on the WHO smallpox scientific advisory committee. Most recently he has been involved in creating two small biotech companies to commercialize discoveries coming from the Institute of Virology.

About Dr. Johnston

Dr. Johnston received a BSc degree (1975) from the University of Victoria and his PhD (1980) and postdoctoral training from Stanford University in California. He has been a faculty member of the University of Calgary since 1984, where he was recruited with funding from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. He was appointed for 10 years as the Terry Fox Professor for Cancer Research at the University of Calgary together with the positions of Director of the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Centre and Associate Director of Research at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. He was then appointed as the Associate Vice-President of Research for the University of Calgary and subsequently as President of Genome Prairie and Genome Alberta (a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to genomics research as part of the Genome Canada program). In 2006, he returned to his academic position full-time at the University of Calgary in the Departments of Oncology, plus Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Currently, he also holds three roles as General Secretary for the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences, as Director of the Alberta Cancer Research Tumour Bank and Biorepository, and as Director of the University of Calgary’s Master in Biomedical Technology Graduate Program. Dr. Johnston’s research focuses on cancer genomics and promising, novel viral therapies for cancer.