The first official cohort of The Clinic’s health innovation residency program, Residency @ The Clinic, has come to an end. The Clinic @ Mac and The Clinic @ Joe's selected thirteen promising ideas for the nine-month incubation process. Throughout the residency, early-stage teams met with experienced mentors in academia and industry to validate concepts, bridge gaps in knowledge and networks, raise funds, create interdisciplinary teams, and further ideas.
“This past year was the fastest I’ve grown and it’s because of The Clinic," said Lianna Genovese, founder and CEO of ImaginAble Solutions. "You can progress your company really fast if you have the right people around you.”
From pivoting research to understand COVID-19, to winning international awards, The Clinic is proud to support the efforts and accomplishments of the following teams and ventures.
FreeHand – The Clinic @ Mac
FreeHand's goal is to create assistive devices for people living with reduced upper motor control due to cerebral palsy or C5-C8 level spinal cord injuries. Their solution, FreeDome, may help patients interact with a computer. During their time at The Clinic @ Mac, the team built a solid foundation for their company by refining their idea, validating the need, and conducting market research. The team’s current priority is constructing a prototype to test with the patients and occupational therapists they connected with during their time in residency at The Clinic.
About their time in The Clinic’s residency program: “Our greatest takeaway from The Clinic @ Mac has been the mentorship and networking opportunities. The connections we made spanned as far as British Columbia and were instrumental in communicating with key stakeholders and securing our first interviews with target users. As a result, we are one step closer to developing FreeHand and introducing our device to the accessible technology market.”
Team Members: Ahmed Attia, BEng BME candidate; Konrad Grala, BHSc HESE candidate; Justin Rosner, BEng candidate; Amanda Tomkins, BEng BME candidate
Academic Supervisor: Jocelyn Harris, PhD and Bill Wang, MD
Glucoin (formerly PharmAssist) – The Clinic @ Mac
Glucoin is an app that aims to motivate youth to adhere to their diabetes management regimen. Features include personalized goal setting, a forum to connect with peers, a journal to track symptoms, and gamified incentives. Conducting initial market assessments during their time at The Clinic @ Mac led to a key shift in their target market. “We interviewed physicians, nurses, and social workers on various diabetes care teams who validated the struggles that adolescents and young adults with diabetes face,” the team said. The concept and features of the Glucoin app were born from this important pivot. “We hope to equip adolescents and young adults with the tools to overcome their unique diabetes management challenges." The team is now focused on building the app and their business team.
About their time in The Clinic’s residency program: “Our coaches and mentors at The Clinic @ Mac were incredibly helpful in developing the foundation of our business knowledge, informing our pivot to a better-defined user demographic, and guiding our preparation to set us up for success this summer and beyond.”
Team Members: Joanna Deng, BHSc (Honours); Lloyd Fan, BHSc (Honours); Victoria Meng, BHSc (Honours); Beverly Tran, BHSc (Honours)
ImaginAble Solutions – The Clinic @ Mac
ImaginAble Solutions' interests lie in creating assistive devices for people living with ALS, cerebral palsy, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and those recovering from spinal cord injuries and strokes. The company’s first device, Guided Hands, aims to improve the quality of life for people living with limited fine motor skills by helping them write, paint, draw, and use a touch-screen device. Since starting her residency at The Clinic @ Mac, founder and CEO Lianna Genovese has launched pilot testing of Guided Hands at eight hospital sites and rehabilitation centres across North America, started collecting pre-orders for the device via the company’s website, and represented Canada and won the Innovation Award at the 2021 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.
Team Member: Lianna Genovese, BEng BME candidate
Academic Supervisor: Anna Korol, PhD
KardioSmart – The Clinic @ Mac
KardioSmart is a non-invasive remote monitoring system that may help patients with congestive heart failure. The device's technology could allow for timely clinical intervention to reduce the risk of hospital admission and improve mortality. Through The Clinic @ Mac, Dr. Ankit Garg expanded his team to include Kyle Jackson, MASc candidate and Leela Pilli, MEng to help him develop his idea and prototype. The team is currently focused on research and development.
About their time in The Clinic’s residency program: “The Clinic @ Mac’s residency program has been a great experience and tremendous resource in facilitating our progress.”
Team Members: Ankit Garg, MD; Kyle Jackson, MASc candidate (Chemical Engineering); Leela Pilli, MEng
Academic Supervisor: Sanjit Jolly, MD
MaCough Monitor – The Clinic @ Joe’s
Dr. Imran Satia and Dr. Qiyin Fang are developing a new device to monitor cough frequency in patients with chronic cough – a disease that affects 10% of the general population. During the team's residency period, five undergraduate engineering students developed a prototype. The prototype has the ability to record coughs objectively which may help physicians understand a patient's cough patterns. The device won an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering’s ECE Expo and Mac Eng Capstone Expo. MSc candidate and Forge graduate Mustafaa Wahab was also added to the team to work on early-stage technology and business development. His efforts won the team an innovation grant from Mitacs and selection for the second cohort of the Toronto Lab2Market program.
Team Members: Imran Satia, MD; Paul O'Byrne, MB; Qiyin Fang, PhD; Mustafaa Wahab, MSc candidate
Undergraduate Capstone Students: Emilija Ilijevska, Monika Jara, Kaylie Lau, Brooklyn Schmidt, Kristina Stepanic
Novel Treatment for Diabetic Kidney Disease - The Clinic @ Joe's
Dr. Joan Krepinsky and PhD candidate Jacqueline Trink are developing a novel drug that may help diabetic kidney disease (DKD) - a disease that has limited treatment options and affects approximately 185 million people worldwide. The team collaborated with peptide modification specialist Dr. Anthony Rullo to work on drug optimization. The preclinical target evaluations were summarized in the document Activated alpha 2-macroglobulin is a novel mediator of mesangial cell profibrotic signaling in diabetic kidney disease. The team has submitted the manuscript for publication and applied for a provisional patent. Fundraising for proof-of-concept validation and pre-clinical drug development is currently underway.
Team Members: Joan Krepinsky, MD; Jackie Trink, PhD Candidate (Medical Sciences); Anthony Rullo, PhD
OrganoBioTech – The Clinic @ Mac
OrganoBioTech’s platform technology aims to help users study new medicine. They developed IFlowPlate, a tissue culture platform, to grow stem cell-derived organoids with blood vessel networks. The goal of the invention is to fulfil the need for more predictive pre-clinical models for drug discovery. Mentors from The Clinic @ Mac played a role in helping this venture find organizations to test IFlowPlate. During the residency, this team secured significant seed funding and registered as an official company in the USA. The company is currently searching for a CEO and exploring manufacturing opportunities.
Team Members: Dawn Lin, PhD candidate (Chemical Engineering); Shravanthi Rajasekar, PhD candidate (Chemical Engineering)
Academic Supervisor: Boyang Zhang, PhD
Pharmasonica – The Clinic @ Mac
Pharmasonica has developed an ultrasound triggered drug delivery system aimed at targeting cancerous tumours. Their proprietary microcapsules may help clinicians better target an area and control the release of a drug to that area. In October 2020, they were finalists in the BioTEC Pitch Competition. An appearance in the finals of the 2021 Synapse Life Science Competition followed.
Team Members: Jonathan Dorogin, PhD candidate (Bioengineering & Biomedical Engineering); Jonathan Que, BEng candidate (Chemical & Bioengineering); Doren Singh, PhD candidate (Chemical Engineering)
Academic Supervisor: Todd Hoare, PhD
Predictive COVID-19 Diagnostics – The Clinic @ Joe’s
Dr. Jeremy Hirota won an NSERC Idea to Innovation (I2I) market assessment grant for developing approaches to monitor the severity of COVID-19 infections. In 2020 he co-founded a company, Infinotype, with Dr. Andrew Doxey to focus on digital health solutions for distributed monitoring and patient wellness. The Toronto Lab2Market program selected the Hirota Lab for its spring 2021 cohort. The team will continue to explore the commercialization opportunities of their research outputs.
Team Members: Jeremy Hirota, PhD; Andrew Doxey, PhD; Milica Vukmirovic, PhD; Shin Wang, MBA Candidate
PROVA Innovations Ltd. – The Clinic @ Mac
PROVA Innovations Ltd. develops new technologies that may help children and adults with mobility issues. The team is building a suite of smart wearables that could aid in motor control and neurorehabilitation for adults and children with limited walking mobility due to a brain injury or neurological disorder. PROVA was recently awarded a $100,000 in-kind grant by Google and accepted into the Google Cloud for Startups program. This experience will help the team develop a cloud-based electronic health system. The goal of the system will be to help healthcare providers monitor patient progress outside of the treatment space. PROVA Innovations Ltd. is currently focused on building research and development partnerships, raising early financing, and hiring key members of its business team.
About their time in The Clinic’s residency program: “The Clinic @ Mac has provided exceptional support and mentorship for our start-up. The guidance The Clinic has provided has helped us to fully develop a strategic plan around our regulatory pathway.”
Team Member: Matthew Rosato, MBA
Therapeutics to Treat High Cholesterol and NAFLD - The Clinic @ Joe's
Dr. Richard Austin, Dr. Jacob Magolan, and Dr. Guillaume Pare developed new drugs that could treat high cholesterol and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A new mechanism of action that identifies druggable targets of PCSK9/SREBP-2 pathways were summarized in The loss-of-function PCSK9Q152H variant increases ER chaperones GRP78 and GRP94 and protects against liver injury. The publication is accompanied by a provisional patent. PhD student Matthew Sgauzzin (Magolan lab) has worked on the optimization of lead drugs. Jae Hyun Byun, MSc (Austin lab) has worked on drug validation in established cell culture and mouse models. The team is currently fundraising for preclinical drug development.
Team Members: Rick Austin, PhD; Jakob Magolan, PhD; Guillaume Paré, MD; Paul Lebeau, PhD; Jae Hyun Byun, MHSc; Paul Saliba, MSc Candidate (Chemistry); Matthew Squazzin, MSc Candidate (Biochemistry)
Transplant Talk – The Clinic @ Mac
Transplant Talk is a digital app with the potential to connect transplant patients, recipients, donors, and prospective donors. The goal of the app to improve transplant rates in marginalized communities. The app's integrated chatbot may provide quick and accurate answers to transplant-related questions. The app is currently under development and the team is exploring a pilot partnership with a Hamilton hospital.
About their time in The Clinic’s residency program: “The mentors at The Clinic @ Mac had a profound impact on the connections I was able to make and helped me forge a path forward for the implementation of this project in the real world, where it can impact real people.”
Team Member: Marzan Hamid, BHSc (Honours) candidate
Academic Supervisor: Istvan Mucsi, MD
VR Cycling (Cyclescapes) – The Clinic @ Mac
Cyclescapes is a virtual reality cycling experience for children who experience prolonged, or frequent, hospital stays. Children in these circumstances often experience deconditioning, fatigue, social isolation and more. The combination of exercise and virtual reality are ways that Cyclescapes wants to combat these outcomes. The team won funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund to build the virtual experience. Phase two of the project includes a 12-week pilot test at a Hamilton hospital this fall.
About their time in The Clinic’s residency program: “This project started as a research grant and not commercialization. As a researcher, I was thinking ‘science, science, science’ and [The Clinic @ Mac coaches] got me to think business. The Clinic @ Mac's [health innovation] roadmap gave us a really good overview of all the moving parts from the generation of the idea to commercialization. Combining the science, research, and business sides have helped to make a much stronger case for everything that we’re doing.”
Team Members: Joyce Obeid, PhD
The Clinic @ Mac and The Clinic @ Joe’s would like to thank their mentors and advisors for their guidance and expertise throughout the cohort. In addition, the efforts of Katrina Cordovado, Dr. Shavy Nagpal, and Shin Wang, MBA were monumental in supporting the resident teams and innovation coaches Zack Muqtadir, Karen Scraba, and Dr. Milica Vukmirovic.
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