Western remembers Bridger, former research vp

The Western research community is mourning the death of William A. Bridger, a former vice-president (research) at Western, who died Thursday, Dec. 18, at St. Michael’s Palliative Care Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta. Martin Brother Funeral Services will announce services at a later date.

Bridger joined Western as vice-president (research) in January 1996, and was reappointed to the position in twice (1998 and 2000).

“I’ve often said I have the best job at the university,” Bridger said in April 2000. “I work with scholars in areas that encompass everything from music to civil engineering to organ transplants. Their enthusiasm for their work, and the important role research plays in society, easily rubs off.”

Born in 1941 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Bridger received both his undergraduate and graduate training in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Manitoba. Following postdoctoral research at the Fox Chase Cancer Institute (Philadelphia) and the Molecular Biology Institute at UCLA, Bridger joined the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta in 1968. He was made a full professor in 1977, and served as chair of the Department of Biochemistry from 1987-93. From then, until his appointment at Western, he joined the central administration of the University of Alberta as associate vice-president (research). Bridger completed a 15-month study leave in the Laboratory of Cell Biology at the Rockefeller University in New York City (1984-85).

Bridger’s own research was concerned with the structure and function of enzymes and other proteins. He won numerous awards for his research, including the Ayerst Award of the Canadian Biochemical Society. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1989. His scientific bibliography included more than 80 papers in refereed journals and one book (Cell ATP). He served as both secretary and president of the Canadian Biochemical Society, and for many years on both the board and executive of the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies.

In 2001, he became founding president and CEO of the newly established Alberta Ingenuity Fund. In this capacity he played a key role in the Province of Alberta in the development of long-term strategies for knowledge discovery, and top-quality training of scientific personnel.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Canadian Transplant Society or to the William A. Bridger Lectureship in Biochemistry, University of Alberta Office of Memorial and Tribute Giving, 3-501 10230 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, AB.