Robert Huizinga (SBL ’18) describes himself as a servant leader who loves to learn with others. Given the breadth of his career as an academic and an executive, it’s an apt description.
Huizinga is the executive vice president of Research at Aurinia Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a commercial biopharmaceutical company based in Victoria, British Colombia, Canada. He leads a team of immunologists, pharmacologists and laboratory scientists working to deliver therapeutics to people with autoimmune diseases.
Under his leadership, the company received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in January 2021 for a drug (Lupkynis™) to treat patients suffering from lupus nephritis. Its development was 17 years in the making and no small feat.
“I’ve been blessed to be one of the very few people who has seen a drug from the very beginning to the very end,” Huizinga says. “On average, for every 10,000 drugs discovered at the lab bench, only one makes it to the finish line.”
Huizinga began his career as a registered nurse. He also worked as a research epidemiologist and nephrology nurse clinician at the University of Alberta before joining the pharmaceutical company that later became Aurinia, where he shepherded the lupus nephritis treatment to approval.
Amid that development, Huizinga was compelled by God to pursue a doctoral degree in organizational leadership at Regent’s School of Business & Leadership. He was drawn to pursue Regent’s online program because of its faculty’s high caliber.
“I had looked at a number of institutions, and Regent was the only one that had professors who were really well-renowned academically,” says Huizinga.
Huizinga also serves as an adjunct professor and chair of the board of governors at The King’s University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Thanks to Regent’s high quality of scholarship, he says that his doctoral work has been “extremely helpful” in those roles and “applies them daily” to his biopharmaceutical work.
The high standards Huizinga saw at Regent reflected the standards that he must hold himself to every day in his job.
“I live in a world where mistakes in drug development can really hurt people. There is no margin for error in my business,” says Huizinga.
The push for excellence that Huizinga received at Regent is propelling him to change the world as he continues to develop life-changing treatments to meet the medical needs of patients around the globe.