“Once seized with an idea, he is a force to be reckoned with.”
Cyclosporine remains today as the drug of choice to combat tissue rejection after transplantation. He was responsible for the controversial but groundbreaking research that showed that cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant, could halt the progression of Type 1 Diabetes – demonstrating that it was an immune disorder.
Dr. Calvin Stiller’s magic touch as a builder pervades every phase of his career. A physician, scientist, administrator, policy innovator and entrepreneur, Dr. Stiller developed one of the most dynamic organ transplant programs in the nation and championed countless other initiatives that have enriched research enterprise in Canada. He is called a visionary with organizational genius.
In a lifetime, an individual might be successful in creating one institution or program. Dr. Stiller has been the architect of many, including the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, MaRs, and the Stiller Centre. From 1984 to 1996, he established and led the Multi-Organ Transplant Service (MOTS) at the London Health Sciences Centre's University Hospital, the first of its kind in Canada and one of the first in the world. During this time, Dr. Stiller had a remarkable run as a crusader for organ donation and the organ donor card, and popularized, if not coined, the term “Gift of Life”.
Dr. Stiller’s appointment to the board of the Medical Research Council of Canada in 1987 coincided with his shift towards medical entrepreneurship, along with a belief in the role of productive partnerships between the private, public and voluntary sectors. In 1996 he was named Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year. Convinced that there was a serious lack of capital available to Canadian bioscientists, he honed his idea of involving the private sector in stimulating a real Canadian-grown life sciences industry. Accordingly, he built four venture funds – the largest being Canadian Medical Discovery Fund – that served as the catalyst for biotechnology in Canada and developed early-seed investments in discoveries coming out of universities.
A recipient of numerous prestigious awards and honours, Dr. Stiller is a Member of the Order of Canada (1995) and the Order of Ontario (2000), and has received the Queen’s Jubilee Award (2002). Recognized for Life Time Achievement by the Canadian Society of Transplantation (2003), he also holds five honourary doctorate degrees.
Dr. Stiller was promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada on December 30, 2011.