Pathogen Response Optimization by GENeratIng ThErapeutics Rationally

Research associate Dr. Gethin Owen holds a molecular model of the COVID-19 Omicron variant’s spike protein, which the Subramaniam lab was the first to produce using Cryo-EM

PROGENITER will bolster Canada’s pandemic preparedness by creating a suite of ready-to-deploy antibody treatments for current health threats like COVID-19 and influenza, while positioning Canada to mount a rapid response to novel threats as they emerge.  

Neutralizing antibody treatments have proven to be a crucial first line of defense in the face of a pandemic, offering swift protection against the initial waves of infection and helping treat vulnerable patients. In response to COVID-19, several successful antibody drugs were developed, with B.C. biotech firms and researchers leading the way. 

PROGENITER will build on B.C.’s leadership and further fuel the local biotech industry by creating an end-to-end pipeline for the rapid design, engineering and production of new antibody therapies. The project will establish a world-class structural biology facility at UBC’s Vancouver campus with advanced cryo-electron microscopes and a comprehensive suite of translational capabilities including AI-enabled biologics discovery and GMP-level production. 

PROGENITER seeks to build an arsenal of antibody drugs against viruses with the highest pandemic potential as identified by Health Canada and the WHO. The project will focus initially on existing viral threats, putting in place resources that will enable a rapid response to new pandemic threats that emerge and positioning Canada to be ready to administer life-saving treatments without delay. 

Led by Dr. Sriram Subramaniam, a renowned structural biologist and entrepreneur, PROGENITER will leverage strong connections with leading pharma and biotech companies, which include AbCellera, Amgen, GSK, Zymeworks, and Gandeeva Therapeutics. The project will create national synergies across academia, industry and public health sectors to accelerate Canada’s preparation for the next pandemic. Importantly, the project will also provide career-development training to trainees at all levels to foster sustainable biotech industry growth. 

PROGENITER will leverage the Advanced Therapeutics Manufacturing Facility (ATMF) to develop novel antibody treatments and collaborate with the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) Consortium to promote public awareness and adoption of new treatments.  

Project director:

Dr. Sriram Subramaniam (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of British Columbia) 

Team members:

  • Horacio Bach (The University of British Columbia)
  • Anna Blakney (The University of British Columbia)
  • Annie Ciernia (The University of British Columbia)
  • Khanh Dao Duc (The University of British Columbia)
  • Leonard Foster (The University of British Columbia)
  • Eden Fussner-Dupas (The University of British Columbia)
  • Eric Jan (The University of British Columbia)
  • Kayla King (The University of British Columbia)
  • Kelley Lee (Simon Fraser University)
  • Shyh-Dar Li (The University of British Columbia)
  • Larry Lynd (University of British Columbia)
  • Ralph Pantophlet (Simon Fraser University)
  • Steven Plotkin (The University of British Columbia)
  • Maria Tokuyama (The University of British Columbia) 


  • AbCellera 
  • Amgen 
  • British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) 
  • Gandeeva Therapeutics 
  • GSK  
  • Simon Fraser University 
  • Zymeworks 

Federal funding:

  • Canada Biomedical Research Fund Award: $14.46 million
  • Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund Award: $16.40 million

This initiative was undertaken thanks in part to funding from the Canada Biomedical Research Fund and the Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund.