Top finalists pitch for prestigious awards
By Diane Lynn Weidner, Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning
The third edition of the McGill Clinical Innovation Competition (CLIC) roused overwhelming interest across the McGill-affiliated network. Inspired by McGill alumnus Dr. Raymond Hakim, the objective of CLIC is to encourage innovative thinkers within the Faculty of Medicine and across McGill to conceive and develop promising ideas that will have a direct and positive impact on Canadian or global health care. This year, a total of 46 proposals were reviewed by an independent panel of judges—all leaders in clinical care, academia, industry, engineering and business—and five finalist teams were selected to pitch their innovative projects at the virtual event on May 21.
“Not surprisingly, the quality of the proposals we received this year clearly demonstrates we have the potential to make a tremendous impact, with the right vision and supports in place,” remarked Dr. David Eidelman, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of Medicine at McGill University, who kicked-off the event by welcoming the online audience.
Mr. Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation for the Government of Quebec, wished all the finalists good luck and emphasized the importance of collaboration and innovative partnership to create competitive environments in Quebec.
Next, Master of Ceremonies Dr. Kevin Lachapelle talked about how this competition highlights the clinical innovation initiatives that are taking place at McGill, from bench to bedside and into commercialization. He thanked Dr. Jake Barralet, Director of Innovation at the Faculty of Medicine and the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning (SCSIL), for his leadership and involvement in building a strong network to support innovators across the McGill community.
“This competition is now in its third year and successful beyond our wildest imagination,” remarked Dr. Hakim, who was very impressed with the high quality and potential of all the finalist submissions to have a real positive impact on patient care. “To borrow one of my favourite quotes from William A. Foster, ‘Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intentions, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives.’ I am grateful to all of the participants whose proposals exemplify my longstanding belief that we can always do better for our patients,” concluded Dr. Hakim.
After a series of engaging pitches, the judges deliberated privately while Dr. Gerald Fried, Associate Dean, Education Technology and Innovation, and Director of the SCSIL, addressed the finalists and online audience. Dr. Fried, a surgeon, reflected on the McGill Department of Surgery’s vision to establish the Surgical Innovation Program, which they did in 2013; this graduate-level program brings together clinicians, engineers and industry to work in multidisciplinary teams that seek to identify unmet clinical needs and develop solutions. With the support of VP-Dean Eidelman, they have expanded the program to other clinical disciplines and have established supports and partnerships with the community and the health care network.
This was followed by a special guest speaker, Henrietta “Mimi” Galiana, co-founder and CSO of Saccade Analytics, the team that won the inaugural Hakim Family Innovation Prize in 2018. Professor Galiana described how her company adapted their business model as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and she provided insightful advice to the finalist teams on the importance of flexibility and patience to remain robust and competitive during these unpredictable times.
The judges then returned with the names of the winning teams, and lead judge Steven Arless, Professor of Practice in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill, shared his insights on the process. “This is my third CLIC jury process and I must say, with all honesty, that this was the most interesting. We had a panel of nine judges today, and despite some differences in the way we saw individual pitches, we came out of the process feeling good about the outcome. I’ve never seen the majority of judges unanimously pick one presentation for the Hakim Family Innovation Prize winner, but that happened this year; the Stenoa team clearly shone in the eyes of the judges. There was also spirited debate about the Marika Zelenka Roy Innovation Prize, but we came up with an interesting compromise and decided to name two winners. I love being part of a jury where we can come up with creative solutions to keep everybody happy.”
We are pleased to announce the winning teams for the 2020 McGill CLIC.
Winner of the Hakim Family Innovation Prize
The Hakim Family Innovation Prize recognizes ideas, new processes or devices in health care with potential to have a tangible and meaningful impact on the patients entrusted to our care.
This prize was awarded to Stenoa. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. Treatment strategies rely on subjective interpretation of coronary angiograms, resulting in overutilization of health care services. Stenoa employs a novel machine learning algorithm to provide operators with real-time insight on the severity of any lesion, offering reliable intraoperative decision-making. Stenoa promises to improve clinical outcomes for patients with CAD, obviating unnecessary, invasive, and costly interventions.
“Being chosen as a winner in the McGill Clinical Innovation Competition, among such talented groups, is an incredibly humbling experience,” says Jeremy Levett, MDCM 2023 Candidate in the Faculty of Medicine, and Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stenoa. “The Hakim Family Innovation Prize is an acclaimed independent validation that will accelerate Stenoa’s research and product development, support us in protecting intellectual property, and empower our vision to improve cardiovascular care. We are indebted to the McGill University Faculty of Medicine, experienced judges, and Hakim Family for this privilege and responsibility.”
Winners of the Marika Zelenka Roy Innovation Prize
The Marika Zelenka Roy Prize, offered in collaboration with the Montreal General Hospital Foundation, recognizes the best solution to an unmet clinical need for the care of a patient and the highest likelihood of success in being translated.
This year, two teams tied for this prestigious prize.
GyroClear is a biomedical company aiming to set a new standard for minimally invasive intra-abdominal and thoracic surgery with their protective sleeve that maintains a clear camera lens throughout procedures. Loss of visibility is a constant problem for surgeons during laparoscopic operations, and they spend a significant amount of time simply cleaning the camera. Their device would eliminate the need for interruptions to clean the camera lens during operations.
“It is an honour to be recognized and acknowledged for our clinical innovation by such a respected and admired panel of judges, especially after seeing the impressive competition,” says Aiden Reich, M.Sc Candidate in Experimental Surgery at McGill University. “This prize will provide us with the necessary support and services to get our device into the hands of surgeons much sooner than we would otherwise have been able to.”
Many older adults are now taking 5, 10 or 15 medications. Polypharmacy can cause side effects such as memory and balance problems. Deprescribing is a solution that requires a health care professional to review a patient’s medications and suggest which ones can be stopped. The process can be time-consuming and requires expert knowledge. MedSafer is an app that helps guide a “medication check-up” by providing scientific information on the harms and benefits, and instructions for safe deprescribing.
“The Marika Zenka Roy Innovation Prize will help us reach our goal of commercializing our deprescribing software, MedSafer, in order to make it more widely available for older adults who are suffering from the harmful side effects of polypharmacy (taking multiple medications),” says Dr. Emily McDonald, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the McGill University Health Centre.
Winner of the MI4 Innovation Prize
This award, sponsored by the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4), recognizes a preventative, diagnostic or therapeutic innovative approach designed to address infectious or immune-related threats to human health.
MI4 brings together over 200 world-class investigators with diverse expertise in infection and immunity research. With the support of the Doggone Foundation, MI4 seeks to accelerate the pace of research and innovation to deliver real-world solutions for Grand Challenges in infection and immunity.
Dr. Marcel Behr, Co-Director of MI4, presented this award to MinutesToMRSA. Their mission is to provide high-quality diagnostic equipment to North American hospitals for the rapid, inexpensive, and high-throughput screening of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in admitted patients.
“We appreciate the support of the MI4 in our pursuit to design a rapid MRSA diagnostic test,” says Alexander Bevacqua, Bioengineering Candidate at McGill University. “The MI4 Innovation Prize will enable us to acquire the resources we need to prototype our device.”
In addition to cash prizes, the winning teams will be provided with access to start-up support and expertise, thanks to our generous sponsors and partners, Fasken, NOVO, and the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship.
We are grateful to our esteemed judges for their tremendous enthusiasm, expertise, time and support.
Congratulations to all of the participants for their exceptional projects. For more information on the teams and finalists, please visit our website.
You can watch the video recording of the competition online using this link: https://youtu.be/S_YpOAFB-IA
May 28 2020