MBiotech Students Recognized for Innovation

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 11:00am

On April 1, 2014, the Master of Biotechnology Program at the University of Toronto Mississauga (MBiotech) recognized student innovation via the annual “MBiotech Innovator Awards”. These are given to the student teams who presented the most innovative projects in Biotech in Medicine, Biopartnering Seminars, Supervised Studies, and/or the Creating Life Science Products course. All projects were supervised by Dr. Jayson Parker.

Innovation Awards First PlaceFirst place overall for 2013-2014 went to David Grabowski, MBiotech Class of 2014, and his team in BTC1850H, Creating Life Science Products, for their Patient Inpatient Notification Tool (HINT). Hospitalization and surgery are stressful for patients and their loved ones. Pre-surgery preparations to post-surgery care can leave family members anxious for several hours. During this time, there is a gap in communication between families, patients, and healthcare providers. HINT enables the user to go about their day having their loved one's hospitalization status updated at their fingertips. The HINT team is currently in discussions with a major downtown Toronto hospital regarding a pilot study, and has recruited developers as well as an experienced professional to aid in strategy and marketing of HINT. HINT is growing and looking fo talented individuals to contribute to the solution.

Innovation Awards Second PlaceSecond place went to Tarek Bin-Yameen, MBiotech Class of 2014, for an invited publication by the journal Pharmacogenomics. This paper, also co-authored by MBiotech alumnus Geoff Reid and Dr. Jayson Parker, represents the first time a paper was published while a student was still in the program. Reprint requests were received from the US, EU and Japan. The pharmaceutical industry is currently experiencing what has been referred to as an 'innovation crisis' - declining drug approval with concomitant increase in Research & Development costs. To date, multiple strategies have been devised in an attempt to resolve the crisis; leveraging pharmacogenomics is one of them. In this invited peer-reviewed publication, the authors highlight a new risk-based paradigm of clinical trial risk that evaluates the utility of biomarkers in drug development and their risk mitigation benefits. Specifically, all approved on-market drugs containing a biomarker in their Product Monograph were evaluated for the stage of biomarker incorporation, predictive factor for incorporation (safety versus efficacy), and analyzed to determine probabilistic success to approval based on stage of clinical development incorporation. As well, the authors highlighted examples of commercial risks, consequential effects of decreased treatment populations, and industry hesitance to biomarker incorporation.

Innovation Awards Third PlaceA final award was presented to The Chimera Consulting Group for their project in the Biopartnering Seminar Series. The team, consisting of Lachlan Armstrong, Erik Bracciodieta, Yu Du, Jason Lee, and Lori Yin, all from the MBiotech Class of 2015, was tasked to increase short-term revenue for the Spatio-Temporal Targeting and Amplification of Radiation Response Program (STTARR), a unique imaging facility in Toronto's Discovery District. STTARR's traditional clientele of biomedical researchers did not provide a sufficient sample flow to realize acceptable revenues. With an incredible range of imaging modalities like spinning disc confocal microscopy, positron emission tomography, a powerful 7 Tesla MRI and an image guided radiation therapy suite, Chimera focused on STTARR's microCT services. Capable of generating incredibly clear 3D images of the interior of small objects with non-invasive X-rays, Chimera identified non-traditional clients for this imaging technology. Of note are the Art of Gallery of Ontario's delicately carved 16th Century European prayer beads and the vast paleontology collection of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). In fact, a conference poster project has resulted from the connection Chimera facilitated between a researcher at the ROM and STTARR's microCT services. With this early success, Chimera's market research is an ideal base for STTARR to bring more value to new of research disciplines.

The MBiotech Program is a 24 month, course-based professional master's degree at the University of Toronto Mississauga which incorporates both science and business courses with 8 to 12 months of work experience in industry. For more information, please visit www.mbiotech.ca