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Honorary degree citation - Francesco Bellini

By: Adrian Tsang, November 2002

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Francesco Bellini, co-founder and former chairman and chief executive officer of BioChem Pharma. Dr. Bellini is a distinguished scientist and a business leader, whose contributions toward the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases continue to have impact on people around the world.

Born in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, Franceso Bellini spent his youth in the mountainous and coastal town, receiving a diploma in chemical engineering before coming to Canada in 1967. He studied at one of Concordia University's founding institutions, Loyola College, earning an undergraduate degree in science in 1972. He followed this with a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of New Brunswick, in 1977. Over the course of 25 years, his original research, leadership and vision have led to major advances in medical science, in the fields of therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics.

Making his home in Montreal, Dr. Bellini began his career as a researcher at a large multinational pharmaceutical company. After numerous fruitful years, he established the biochemical division of the Institut Armand-Frappier at the Université de Québec, which specializes in research, manufacturing and the commercialization of fine chemicals. He left this post in 1986, when he co-founded BioChem Pharma. In short time, the Montreal based pharmaceutical company established a leading reputation through the development and commercialization of a cornerstone drug for combination HIV/AIDS therapies. Another major discovery was an oral treatment for chronic hepatitis B, and the company also focuses on therapies for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Under Dr. Bellini's direction, BioChem Pharma scientists have led impressive innovations in biochemical research and development, which have propelled Canadian biopharmaceutical research to global prominence.

Last year, Dr. Bellini launched a new biopharmaceutical company, Picchio International Incorporated, a joint venture with the Power Technology Corporation dedicated to acquiring, developing and commercializing new therapeutic products and technologies.

As chairman of this new undertaking, Dr. Bellini will continue his steadfast work advancing medical science in Canada, as well as global health.

The author or co-author of more than 20 patents and many articles based on his research, Dr. Bellini has been recognized internationally with numerous honours. These include the Onorificenza Di Grande Ufficiale, in 1997, the highest distinction awarded by the Italian government to civilians for their contributions in or outside Italy. He received the National Merit Award from the Ottawa Life Sciences Council in 1998. In 1999, he was named both a "Great Montrealer" by the Académie des Grands Montréalais and one of 50 "Bâtisseurs" of Quebec, in honour of his outstanding contributions to the growth of the city and province. In the year 2000, Dr. Bellini was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, cited for his visionary role in building a world-leading biotechnology company.

Dr. Bellini is involved on the boards of several prominent corporations, and has played an active role in the development of many Montreal hospitals, universities and community based organizations. An esteemed alumna of the university, he has been a great supporter of Concordia for many years.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you, Dr. Francesco Bellini, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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