An Eye On: Aufero Medical

on November 12, 2020

Founded in 2017, Aufero has developed a medical device, the catheter contact-force controller (CFC), to address a common problem in catheter radiofrequency (RF) ablation therapy in treating cardiac arrhythmia. This device stabilizes the contact-force during RF delivery allowing improved, reproducible lesion formation. Improved lesion formation will improve patient outcomes and reduce the number of repeated treatments that are required, leading to improved quality of life and reduced healthcare costs.

The company was co-founded by Western Professor Allan Skanes, Robarts Scientist Maria Drangova and Daniel Gelman, a Western Postdoctoral Fellow who leads the company as President and CEO. Aufero got its first boost in spring of 2017 when the company was accepted to the first cohort of TechAlliance’s BURST program, an innovative incubation program for high-potential medical technology startups that provided the company with $70k worth of funding and mentoring.

The company has gone onto receive several grants and funding including $300k from CANet’s Commercialization Grant and has also seen interest from venture capital firms. The company also won the CANet Shift competition winning 200k.

These funds have helped develop the second prototype of the CFC and will enable the company to move forward with its first human clinical trials.

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Awarded Western Innovation Funds

on November 12, 2020

Supported by the office of the Vice-President (Research), the Western Innovation Fund (WIF) awards are intended to support projects that will advance innovative research development towards application and commercialization. This competition is for one-time projects based on existing research initiatives.

Passive thermal regulator for bio organisms
$100K – Kamran Siddiqui

A team of researchers led by Kamran Siddiqui has designed, developed and constructed a new portable temperature-regulating device, which can be used to transport a wide array of temperature-sensitive items including organs, vaccines and pharmaceuticals. This scalable device could also prove handy for the restaurant and retail grocery industries with a capacity to deliver items from businesses-to-consumer at just the right temperature.

Traditional devices are built without controls and have difficulty sustaining a fixed temperature (hot or cold). This new device can be controlled and maintained at a constant-set point temperature independent of the surrounding temperature for an extended duration. The device also has the capability to adjust the temperature to different levels for different time spans during transportation. There is also no need for an external power source, and it can be controlled and monitored remotely.

The WIF was awarded to Siddiqui and team to develop the prototype to improve commercialization readiness.

Attenuation of infection by Staphylococcus aureus
$99K – David Heinrichs

Staphylococcus aureus is a significant cause of infection in people despite being commonly found on healthy human skin. It becomes pathogenic when it enters the body through cuts or lesions and can cause minor surface level infections or deep debilitating infections throughout the body. It has also been known to develop varying degrees of drug resistance.

David Heinrichs’ lab has identified a mutation in S. aureus’ purine biosynthesis pathway that contribute to its virulence. This discovery opens up alternate treatment and target mechanisms for hard to treat S. aureus and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which infect millions of people annually.

This research can help lead to developing a potential vaccine or drug therapies for Staphylococcus aureus and related infections. Various biopharmaceutical companies have already expressed interest in the breakthrough.

The WIF was awarded to Heinrichs to further explore this body of work and to prepare it for licensing and commercialization.

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New and exciting disclosures

on November 12, 2020

WORLDiscoveries receives dozens of reports of innovation to our office every year. Here are just a few of the new and exciting innovations that we have the opportunity to explore commercialization pathways for.

Multidimensional Pain Measurement Application Tool

A novel and robust aid in the clinical management of people with musculoskeletal pain, disability, or related conditions by applying new factors to the way pain is measured using a single tool. The questionnaire frontend and a computational algorithm backend are combined in an easy-to-use application. Using this tool allows healthcare providers to collect information that is more accurate to aid patients.

Annexin A5 for the Treatment of Sepsis in COVID-19 Patients

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. Sepsis has repeatedly been found in patients with COVID-19. Annexin A5 a treatment being explored for sepsis even before the pandemic struck has now led unexpectedly to studying Annexin A5 as a potential treatment for complications of COVID-19.

Novel Protein Biomarkers of Concussion

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, and there is rising concern on their impact on the long-term health of athletes in contact sports and combat military veterans. This innovation provides a way to detect the impact and severity of a concussion on a patient by measuring proteins in a blood sampling. This could provide numerous benefits in the speed and types of treatment administered for concussions.

COVID-19 Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarkers

Research stemming from this innovation suggests that COVID-19 affects the body’s blood concentration levels of specific metabolites, which could one day be measured through an inexpensive blood test to quickly screen patients for the disease and predict which patients will become most critically ill. This development could also help inform therapeutic interventions that could help patients with COVID-19.

A Novel Design for Completing Long-Range Tasks with a Network of Autonomous Drones

An unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly called a drone, has been explored in a wide variety of commercial applications from package delivery to agricultural monitoring. This innovation suggests using a network of drones and ancillary equipment to make up for the shortcomings that drones currently face such as battery life and onboard computational limitations.

L-glucose and modifiers of glucose utilization and metabolism for the treatment of cancer

This early stage innovation seeks to explore the use of a non-physiological isomer L-glucose as a potential treatment for cancer as a direct chemotherapy agent or in tandem with existing standard treatments to further the elimination of cancer cells by increasing their responsiveness to treatment.

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WORLDiscoveries Asia and InnoVenture

on November 12, 2020

Established in 2011 in response to the changing global economy and an increasing demand for world-class technologies in Asia, WD Asia operates out of offices in Hong Kong and Nanjing of Jiangsu province. We are the first permanent technology commercialization entity in Asia ever created by a Canadian organization.

Over the years, WD Asia has achieved a series of successes in facilitating licensing deals, research collaborations, and the creation of start-ups, valued at over $30 million. By early 2019, with the support from strategic partners and years of development, WD Asia has grown into a successful professional services provider dedicated to help research institutions and hi-tech small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across Ontario develop IP and innovation partnerships.

In June 2019, with direct support from the Incremental Project Grants (IPG) funding, WD Asia’s service successfully expanded to Quebec and Japan, establishing local operations. WD Asia developed its research organization and SME client base in Quebec and built a business network in Japan among investors and industry. To date, this program has enrolled 15 Japanese organizations, more than 10 organizations based in Quebec and added over 40 technologies to its portfolio.

The grant also funded the development of InnoVenture, an online matchmaking platform. A collaboration between WORLDiscoveries and the Centre for Advanced Computing at Queen’s University, the platform matches Canadian SMEs with potential investors and business partners using artificial intelligence based on the expertise and fields of interest of both parties. Interested parties can sign up at

WORLDiscoveries Asia also received a Technology Transfer Award from the Office of Science and Technology of Nanjing, which included ¥300,000 in recognition of WORLDiscoveries’ efforts in advancing tech transfer between Canada and China.

Currently, WD Asia is focused on enhancing Canada’s profile, the level of engagement in research collaboration, technology commercialization and venture capital investment in the Asian region and achieving financial sustainability through delivering quality professional services in these areas.

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Innovator of the Year

on November 12, 2020

Qingping Feng, PhD

As we see with many of the innovations that come into the WORLDiscoveries office, it can take years – sometimes decades for an innovation to reach the public sphere.

For Dr. Qingping Feng, Western Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry Professor and Lawson Scientist, it has been over 13 years since his annexin A5 protein discovery was disclosed and then later licensed to an industry partner.

Feng has been named the 2020 WORLDiscoveries Vanguard Innovator of the Year, an honour that celebrates market-ready research, for his team’s development of the protein Annexin A5 into a pharmaceutical that may become the world’s first effective treatment for sepsis, including when it arises as a complication of COVID-19.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. Sepsis kills millions of people every year. Physicians attempt to control sepsis through preventative measures, but once it takes hold prognosis is not good.

Annexin A5 is a human protein with benefits believed to include reduction of inflammation and coagulation. Feng’s work shows that it could halt sepsis.
“Various supportive treatments are being used and to some degree they’re helpful – but they don’t actually treat the disease, so that’s a major issue,” Feng said.
Annexin A5 might fill that void. Preliminary results show it may be effective in 40 per cent of cases; by contrast, the next best available treatment is effective in just 6 per cent of cases. This could save countless lives around the world, including those who have contracted COVID-19.

Yabao Pharmaceutical Co, based in Beijing, China, has a partnership agreement with Lawson to develop and market annexin-based products in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. (Lawson has the licensing rights to annexin elsewhere in the world.) Yabao has completed its phase 1 trial, on healthy humans, and is moving toward a phase 2 trial, this time with patients who have sepsis. The product could become a treatment option “if all goes well, maybe in about five years,” said Feng.
“I would like to thank Western and Lawson for their support over the years, it’s been a privilege and honour to work at these to amazing organizations,” said Feng while accepting his award.

For his outstanding research that could lead to one of the biggest breakthroughs in the treatment of a leading cause of death in the world, Dr. Feng is the 2020 Innovator of the Year.

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Celebrating Innovation

on November 12, 2020

As the technology transfer and business development office for Western University, Robarts Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, WORLDiscoveries® is pleased to present the annual Vanguard Awards.

This celebration recognizes local researchers, who, through partnership with WORLDiscoveries, have achieved various market-readiness milestones. Watch the awards presentation at

2020 Vanguard Award winners

Innovator of the Year

Qingping Feng

Eric Arts (Nominee)
Jing Jiang (Nominee)

Patent Issued Awardees

Robert Bartha
Arthur Brown
Xiaobing Cai
Dante Capaldi
Tanya Charyk-Stewart
Mark Daley
Gregory Dekaban
Timothy Doherty
Sabastine Ezugwu
Giovanni Fanchini
Aaron Fenster

Lisa Fischer
Doug Fraser
Joe Gilroy
Fumin Guo
Qiuquan Guo
Alexandra Hauser-Kawaguchi
Jeff Holmes
Miranda Kirby
Leonard Luyt
Ravi Menon
Joseph Paquette

Grace Parraga
Jeliazko Polihronov
Emily Rodrigues
Tony Rupar
Khadija Sheikh
Kevin Shoemaker
Anthony Straatman
Sarah Svenningsen
Eva Turley
Xiaolong Wang
Jun Yang

License Agreement Signed Awardees

Ataul Bari
John Barrett
Vojislava Grbic
Miodrag Grbic
Jin Jiang
Benoit Lewden
Jianping Ma
Ibrahim Marwa

Laleh Nazari
Anthony Nichols
Patrick O’Donoghue
Frank Prato
Mahmoudreza Ramin
Madhumita Ray
Jacob Reeves
Gary Shaw

Maryanne Siu
Bartosz Slak
Robert Stodilka
Jean Theberge
Terry Thompson R.
Charles Xu

Direct Sales Awardees

Claire Crooks
David Wolfe
Peter Jaffe
Raymond Hughes

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Proteus Innovation Competition

on November 12, 2020

Rising to the Challenge

Returning for its fifth year, the Proteus Innovation Competition (ProteusIC) saw 39 teams comprised of 102 individuals, an increase of over 35 per cent from last year, as the competition attracted even more teams from partner institutions – McMaster University and University of Windsor. Contestants vied for three $5000 prizes and the opportunity to license their selected technology and launch a startup company.

The 2019/20 competition was led by a partnership between WORLDiscoveries®, Western Entrepreneurship, Western Research Parks, TechAlliance, McMaster University and the University of Windsor. The competition brought together community members and challenged them to create a commercialization plan for taking their choice of technology to market.

Building off last year’s momentum, the competition selected three technologies from three universities. Western University put forth a microbiome modulation with CRISPR technology; McMaster offered a novel neonatal laryngoscope, while the University of Windsor provided a flexible pressure sensor technology. Each innovation saw a first-rate commercialization plan developed by a winning team. This year also saw the closest finale scores in ProteusIC history.

Team BacCheck proposed developing and bringing to market the Western technology as a topical ointment containing an engineered CRISPR nucleus that can target and kill harmful multi-drug resistant bacteria in humans. The team’s plan outlined a five-year plan to complete phase one and two clinical trials before marketing the ointment to Canadian hospitals with the long-term goal of going global.

Team Neolyx created a robust and well-researched plan to bring the McMaster neonatal laryngoscope to market by targeting Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in the United States highlighting the existing need and demand for the innovation. The plan identified eight existing manufacturers of laryngoscopes who would want to license the technology, and even narrowed down which one would be the strategic choice to partner with.

Finally, Team BMW Gait proposed using the University of Windsor technology to develop and market a cost-effective insole gait monitor. This technology would be used to analyze the motor performance of individuals dealing with neurological disorders, which is a major indicator for treatment and recovery. The team suggested the product be marketed to rehabilitation institutes, researchers, fitness tracker companies, athletes and sport coaches.

The contestants were able to participate in the launch event and workshops in-person but had to quickly adapt their final pitches to the new virtual reality when the COVID-19 shutdown landed right around the time of the scheduled pitch finale. The judges were impressed by the teams’ willingness to adapt and skill displayed in delivering their virtual pitches.

“We believe that being part of the MIF program significantly contributed to our success in the Proteus Innovation Competition given that such experience equipped our team with a holistic business perspective.”

Bashar Yafouz, PhD, Proteus participant and winner; Western Medical Innovation Fellowship alumnus
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Western Entrepreneurship

on November 12, 2020

As one of the four pillars of entrepreneurship at Western, WORLDiscoveries supports the Innovation Ambassadors program and the Graduate Student Innovation Scholars program.

Innovation Ambassadors are a group of approximately 50 self-identified researchers from across campus who have experience and expertise in entrepreneurship, commercialization or knowledge mobilization. They are charged with a mission to connect great ideas from their areas into the ecosystem.

Through their work in faculties and departments across campus, they are dedicated to developing and supporting an entrepreneurial mindset at Western. The Innovation Ambassadors hosted a Fall networking event and are now exploring ways to engage with the campus community despite challenges presented by COVID-19.

Another development for Western Entrepreneurship is the construction of a new building that will act as the campus hub for all things entrepreneurship. It will offer space for the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship as well as a home for other entrepreneurship programs and activities. WORLDiscoveries is looking forward to the opportunities this development will offer to the entrepreneurship ecosystem and our goal of making Western the university that best develops entrepreneurs.

Graduate Student Innovation Scholars

A program that promotes and champions skills development for graduate students, Western’s Graduate Student Innovation Scholars (GSIS) program equips grad students with improved career skills both in and outside of academia. Awarded to those students who have exhibited the creation and development of new ideas, personal entrepreneurship, promising career growth, and a solid work ethic, the GSIS offers not only a financial award but a learning opportunity as well.

Consisting of a series of lectures on topics ranging from intellectual property and patents to technology assessment and entrepreneurship, the program aims to broaden the minds of grad students and show them a glimpse into the world of commercialization, entrepreneurship and knowledge mobilization. The program has progressively grown the number of graduate students supported in each cohort.

Fall 2019 Scholars

Jeronimo Coltro
Brendan Horan
Nialia Lafleur
Ekky Manoilenko

Joshua Dierolf
Lisa Floyd
Jennifer Howard
Jaipreet Mattu

Patrick McCunn
Jakub Szmit
David Walugembe
TianDuo Wang

Winter 2020 Scholars

Faizah Alotaibi
Maninder Bhamra
Olivia Ghosh-Swaby
Samir Hamadache

Vyshnave Jeyabalan
Denise Kamyuka
Ramanpreet Kaur
Mofiyinfoluwa Lawal

Mohamed Moselhy
Taylor Rubert
Mohammad Tibi
Amy Wang

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Innovating for the future

on November 12, 2020

Western Medical Innovation Fellowship Program

The Western Medical Innovation Fellowship (MIF) immerses talented young scientists, engineers and clinicians in training and research environments that build innovation leaders and create novel medical technologies. As part of their program, the fellows completed the Medical Innovation Commercialization Boot Camp at the University of Minnesota. Later they consulted with clinicians across the local healthcare industry and developed two projects to address needs they discovered that fit within their areas of expertise.

After disclosing two reports of innovation (ROI) to WORLDiscoveries and filing one patent, the results of the cohort’s work will go on to be commercialized by Wagner Souza who has launched a startup – Thalamus Assistive Technologies. The company will market the smart walker technology the cohort developed and aspires to expand into various forms of smart mobility tech in the future. Thalamus received media coverage from CTV and Western News. It has also been accepted into the Western Accelerator program, which provides an immersive education in entrepreneurship for high-potential ventures and $12,000 in funding.

The cohort also participated in the Proteus Innovation Competition in two separate teams. Team BMW Gait consisting of Bashar Yafouz, Maryam Majedi, and Wagner Souza won a $5000 prize for developing a commercialization plan and pitch for a flexible pressure sensor technology. Team Intubex came in as a runner up for their neonatal laryngoscope business plan and pitch. BMW Gait went on to participate in the 2020 DMC Assistive Tech Challenge Virtual Pitch Competition and came in second place, winning a $2500 award.

Entering its sixth year, the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship – in partnership with Western’s BrainsCAN – attracted seven talented scientists, engineers, and clinicians to take part in the intense 10.5-month program. Due to COVID-19 the Minnesota Boot Camp moved to a virtual delivery model and WORLDiscoveries, Ivey Business School and industry professionals volunteered to help supplement the boot camp portion of the program. Clinical immersion will also happen virtually. This has opened the door to interviews beyond the local area and the fellows have reached out to clinicians in British Columbia and the Netherlands.

Western’s BrainsCAN initiative committed more than $3.5 million over seven years to the program, along with MITACS and the Western Bone and Joint Institute’s Collaborative Training Program in Musculoskeletal Health Research. The goal, which is vital now more than ever, is to shape inventive and creative leaders that develop novel medical technologies that solve complex problems faced in healthcare.

From L to R: Adam Paish went on to complete his PhD in medical biophysics; Maryam Majedi accepted a postdoc position at the University of Toronto; Wagner Souza founded Thalamus Assistive Technologies, a startup developing smart assistive devices for individuals with special sensory, motor and cognitive needs. Bashar Yafouz is working on his professional engineering designation while Sathyanarayanan Sridhar and Jeiran Eskandari are exploring career opportunities.

The program continues to expand each year, increasing the number of fellows in every cohort. The Ontario Brain Institute and Burroughs Wellcome Fund have provided grants for several program initiatives. Local partners like St. Joseph’s Health Care London, London Health Sciences Centre, Ivey Business School, and industry professionals have continued to make the program possible despite the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has brought on additional mentors to provide customized coaching to match the fellows’ interests and needs.

The 2020/21 cohort is comprised of seven fellows. From L to R: Eveline Pasman holds a PhD in Kinesiology and an MD, Sheyla Abdic holds a MSc in Surgery and an MD, Gordon Ngo holds an MD and a BESc in Electrical Engineering, Kiril Fedorov holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, Sherif Abdou holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Michael Lavdas holds a MESc in Biomedical Engineering, and Saumik Biswas has a PhD in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

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The Fourth R

on November 12, 2020

Curriculum for healthy youth relationships

Developed by a group of researchers, educators and psychologists at Western’s Centre for School Mental Health, The Fourth R is dedicated to promoting healthy adolescent relationships and reducing risk behaviours. The program provides resources and training materials for educators and front-line professionals who work with youth.

The Fourth R methods use best practice approaches to target multiple forms of violence, including bullying, dating violence, peer violence and group violence. The Fourth R founders advocate that in addition to the three traditional Rs of education (reading, writing, and arithmetic); training on relationships offers tremendous value to youth in much the same way.

The program launched in 2001 and has grown substantially. The Fourth R initiatives have been taught in over 5000 schools across Canada and the United States and offers content adapted to regional requirements, minimizing barriers to implementation. The program also offers resources for Indigenous, LGBT2Q+ and vulnerable youth.

Teachers report high satisfaction with the program when surveyed – commending its clearly written lesson plans as its best feature and expressing that they found themselves and their students engaged by the course material. The program has also demonstrated that youth trained in Fourth R methodology exhibit better peer resistance and communication skills compared to youth who didn’t receive the training. Studies on program participants also reported lower reported numbers of dating violence and increased levels of healthy relationship behavior.

WORLDiscoveries (WD) partnered with the creators of the Fourth R, Claire Crooks, Ray Hughes, Peter Jaffe and David Wolfe in 2020 and and launched a redesigned ecommerce website providing a user-friendly experience to access the 36+ products, training videos and other digital resources. WD will oversee licensing and marketing of the curriculum. You can learn more about The Fourth R at

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