Greg Korbutt

Biological Sciences Technology ’82

Published on January 31, 2019

Alumni Award of Distinction ’01

Dr. Greg Korbutt is a world-renowned diabetes researcher on the verge of a major breakthrough.

But from 1978 to 1980, he drove a Coca-Cola truck with no idea where the road of life would take him. Even when he applied to NAIT it was to five areas; eventually, he settled on science.

Discovering latent talents in lab research, Korbutt worked with Dr. Ray Rajotte (Medical X-ray Technology ’65) and his Edmonton Protocol team to pioneer transplants of insulin-producing islet cells for severe diabetics.

Then he began experimenting with neonatal pigs as a source of islets. Now he’s ready to move that to clinical trials, a North American first. To do so, he’s secured $26 million to build in Edmonton the first Western Canadian facility to meet Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration’s strict regulations for stem cell research.

“It’s not the ultimate cure for diabetes,” says Korbutt. “But it’s a good stop-gap solution, which will increase the availability of islet cells for transplantation.”

— Lisa Ricciotti