He was born in Saskatchewan, the son of a Pentecostal minister, and grew up in Naicam, Saskatchewan. Stiller demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, running a milk bar in high school and a roller skate park. He studied medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, pursuing graduate studies in Edmonton and London, Ontario, and became a fellow in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 1972. He was a professor in the Department of Medicine and Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the University of Western Ontario and helped in founding the Robarts Research Institute there. He founded the Multi-Organ Transplant Service at the London Health Sciences Centre in 1985 and served as its chief until 1996.
He specialized in organ transplants and help pioneer the use of ciclosporin to help stop rejection of transplanted tissue. Stiller's research also demonstrated that Type 1 Diabetes was an immune disorder.
He has been a strong proponent of research and helped create, and was the Chair of, the Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund, a mutual fund supporting Canadian medical research. He also helped establish the MaRS Discovery District, whose aim is to bring the results of publicly funded research to market. He was a co-founder and chair of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and has served as chairman of Genome Canada. In 1987, he was named to the board of the Medical Research Council of Canada.
Stiller helped establish the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and was named to it in 2010. He was named to the Order of Ontario in 2000. He became a member of the Order of Canada in 1995 and became an Officer of the order in 2011. He has received five honorary Doctorates and received the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award in 2010.
- "Dr. Calvin R. Stiller". Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. 2012.
- "Calvin Stiller's business sense: Just what the doctor ordered". Globe and Mail. December 28, 2010.
- "Calvin Stiller OC, OO, MD". Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.
- "2010 Gairdner Foundation Lectures: Dr. Calvin Stiller". Cumming School of Medicine.
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