SIMON Fraser University Vice-President (Research) B. Mario Pinto, who is of Goan (Indian) and Sri Lankan origin, will become the next president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
The announcement was made Tuesday by James Moore, Minister of Industry and Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology).
Dr. Pinto, former chair of SFU’s chemistry department and well known as a pioneer in the field of chemical biology, has served as VP Research for the past decade. He takes on the new role as head of NSERC effective this fall.
“On behalf of the SFU community I congratulate Mario Pinto on this prestigious appointment as NSERC’s president,” said SFU President Andrew Petter.
“His leadership over the past decade has built a strong foundation for research and has furthered SFU’s commitment to being a world leader in knowledge mobilization. Research is a key component of SFU’s vision of an ‘engaged university’ and he has substantially contributed to that vision. We wish him every success as he shapes the future directions for research in Canada.”
Dr. Pinto came to SFU in 1983 after completing postdoctoral work at Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France and the National Research Council in Ottawa. He chaired the chemistry department for five years and was appointed SFU’s Vice-President, Research in 2004.
During his tenure he advocated for new models of knowledge exchange and business acceleration that have successfully linked SFU’s student and faculty innovators with B.C.’s technology ecosystem. His championship of multi-disciplinary approaches to global problems has been instrumental to expanding SFU’s long-standing commitment to national and international linkages in research, technology, and education.
Most recently Dr. Pinto facilitated India-Canada collaborations in the areas of health and life sciences, and natural and applied sciences including engineering and clean technology. Earlier this year, he was involved in the establishment of a joint venture between Ryerson University, SFU and the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute to establish the first Canadian-led business accelerator in India. He also set the stage for SFU’s partnership with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. on hydrogen and fuel cell technology research and student exchange.
While serving as SFU’s VP Research, Dr. Pinto carried on his active research program, making contributions both nationally and internationally to knowledge and methodology that are advancing drug and vaccine design. His work has led to a better understanding of the nature of molecular mimicry and the control of the processes of intestinal enzymes in those with Type 2 diabetes. He has mentored 69 undergraduate research assistants, 50 graduate students and 36 postdoctoral fellows from around the world.
Dr. Pinto has served as president of the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) and the International Carbohydrate Organization, and as vice-chair of the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC). He was a founding member of the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD). A fellow of the CIC, Dr. Pinto was elected to the Academy of Sciences of the Royal Society of Canada in 2003.
His numerous awards include: the 2014 Montreal Medal of the Chemical Institute of Canada and three awards from the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC): the 2013 Alfred Bader Award, the 2012 R.U. Lemieux Award and the 2002 Bernard Belleau Award. He received the BC Innovation Council Frontiers in Research Award in 2005, the Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research Lecture Award in 1993 and the American Chemical Society Horace S. Isbell Award in 1992.
Dr. Pinto studied in Canada and holds a Bachelor of Science and doctorate in Chemistry from Queen’s University.