Dr. Corey Stephenson, an internationally renowned expert in photochemistry, will be joining UBC’s Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Science as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Innovative Synthetic Methods for Translational Chemistry, the Government of Canada announced today.
Dr. Stephenson is among three new Canada Excellence Research Chairs being appointed at UBC. Currently a professor at the University of Michigan, Dr. Stephenson will join UBC in June 2024 to lead a research program focused on creating more efficient and sustainable processes for manufacturing life-saving medicines.
The Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program was established by the federal government in 2008 to strengthen Canada’s ability to attract the world’s top researchers. UBC will receive up to $24 million over eight years to support these three new chairs and their teams to establish ambitious research programs.
“On behalf of UBC, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to our three newest Canada Excellence Research Chairs,” says UBC President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon. “Their commitment to scientific discovery is a testament to the calibre of research excellence we strive for at UBC. The ripple effects of their research will drive forward advancements that will touch the lives of every Canadian and further position Canada as a global leader in science and innovation.”
Paving the way for next-generation medicines
Advances in areas like pharmaceuticals, agrochemistry, and energy are being driven by innovations in chemistry research, including new methods for creating or synthesizing chemicals or molecules in a more efficient manner. These new methods are providing scientists with improved capabilities to produce desired substances or achieve specific reactions that might have been challenging or even impossible with older techniques.
As the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Innovative Synthetic Methods for Translational Chemistry, Dr. Stephenson will be spearheading the creation of new methods that involve photo- and electro-catalytic methods — techniques that use light and electricity to accelerate and improve chemical reactions. These methods offer several advantages: they work well with a wide range of chemical groups with mild reactions, can be scaled up easily, and are straightforward to use.
Dr. Stephenson, who was born and raised in Ontario, received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Waterloo. He completed his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh and began his independent career at Boston University before joining the University of Michigan in 2013. He will be joining UBC in June 2024 as a professor in the department of chemistry in the faculty of science, and the department of biochemistry and molecular biology in the faculty of medicine. He will also join the BC Cancer Research Institute as a research scientist.
“Returning to Canada as a Canada Excellence Research Chair at UBC, a world leader in innovation, fills me with excitement about the tremendous opportunity,” says Dr. Stephenson. “The Canadian government’s substantial investment in fundamental and translational research underscores their dedication to propelling the nation to the forefront of research and innovation, and to accelerate the transformation of scientific breakthroughs into real-world solutions.”
Dr. Stephenson and his research team will be designing new tools that use light and electricity for use in drug creation and improving plant-protecting chemicals, using advanced data analysis to perfect their approaches. Additionally, they will be developing efficient ways to discover and refine these techniques.
Dr. Stephenson’s work will have important implications for health research, laying down the building blocks for the next generation of medicines, and will contribute to more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.