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.