Generating Innovation Through Generosity


Calgary Health Foundation is working in partnership with Alberta Health Services, Alberta Precision Laboratories and five of Alberta’s health foundations in establishing of a biorepository for human COVID-19 samples in the province.

Biorepository Funding Critical
for on-going COVID-19 Research

The biorepository will allow for the long-term preservation of positive COVID-19 samples. This enables Alberta’s world-class medical-scientific researcher’s local access to the biological material they need to further study the virus. Without the biorepository, these positive samples could only be temporarily stored, and would not be available long-term to support our research in combatting COVID-19

“Calgary Health Foundation and our donors recognize that targeted research is needed to enhance our understanding of this highly contagious virus and to accelerate the discovery of effective diagnostics, treatments and prevention for current and future outbreaks,” said Mike Meldrum, President & CEO of Calgary Health Foundation, the lead sponsor of the project. “The partnership between philanthropy and health care means that we can do more, faster, and support the innovation that continues to be needed especially during these critical times.”

Building the $300,000 biorepository is a partnership among Calgary Health Foundation, University Hospital Foundation, Alberta Cancer Foundation, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation. Alberta Health Services and its subsidiary, Alberta Precision Laboratories, will fund operations and maintenance.

“Alberta’s success in testing, tracing, and containing COVID-19 in recent months has been the result of collaboration and innovation on the part of our health care community and its many partners,” said Minister of Health Tyler Shandro. “The establishment of the biorepository is a tangible example of how these critical partnerships – with foundations and post-secondary institutions –position Alberta to be a leader in the discovery of effective diagnostics and treatments and in the prevention of future outbreaks.”

A biorepository is a facility that includes sophisticated refrigeration equipment that allows for the collection, cataloguing and storage of biological specimens. These specimens will support current and future research studies into coronavirus. Two hubs of the biorepository will be established within existing laboratory infrastructure at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. It is expected that the biorepository will be fully established and operational before the end of May.

“Alberta is doing exceptional work right now to detect and prevent the spread of this virus in our population. While this work remains crucial to our current efforts, we are also thinking about the future – about deeper study of COVID-19 and other coronaviruses, through clinical and academic research” said AHS President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu. “We are extremely grateful to our foundation partners for their contribution towards this worthwhile project that will benefit Albertans today and far into the future.”

There are currently more than 30 research projects in Alberta in need of positive samples to support their coronavirus-related research. These projects are undertaken between the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, involving dozens of Alberta-based researchers. Some of these research projects involve collaborations with scientists in other parts of North America.

These research projects are exploring things like rapid point-of-care testing methods, the effectiveness of certain drugs in treating the virus, the utility of serological (antibody) testing, and genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

To learn more about how you can support Calgary Health Foundation’s COVID-19 response efforts, visit our COVID-19 Response & Recovery Fund.

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