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Showcasing our culture of innovation, commercialization and community

MILO's seventh annual Innovation Showcase featured the presentation of thirteen awards, recognizing everything from the potential of budding entrepreneurs and their commercial prospects, to a lifetime innovation award.
Showcasing our culture of innovation, commercialization and community

L-R: Gay Yuyitung, Mo Elbestawi, Ted McMeekin, with Innovator Award Winners Mary Law, Andrew Knights, Ravi Selvanagapathy, Gordon Guyatt

By: Danelle D'Alvise, Research Communications
November 20, 2014 

McMaster’s commitment to putting our research to work for the greater good is part of the University's raison d'être –and quite possibly, where our research has the greatest impact.   

As President Patrick Deane noted in his welcome remarks at the McMaster Innovation Showcase 2014, "that impact can be amplified ten-fold if we increase our capacity to innovate by creating the right culture – a culture that encourages and celebrates entrepreneurship and innovation at every level – from our students (both undergraduate and graduate) right through to our staff and faculty."

This year's Showcase theme Opening Doors for Innovation celebrated McMaster's research innovation ecosystem, capping the day with an awards ceremony recognizing more than twenty individuals and teams. The awardees ranged from entrepreneurial students with innovative approaches and commercialization-ready solutions for a variety of 'real-world' problems, to the lifetime achievements of one of McMaster's innovative pioneers. 

Lifetime Innovator Award - Dr. Gordon Guyatt

He’s been described as the pioneer of "evidence-based medicine" – a phrase he first coined in 1990 Dr. Gordon Guyattand actively promoted as a central concept in the practice of medicine, significantly improving patient care for all Canadians.

Among his many accolades, Dr. Gordon Guyatt is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Canada and was named the 2013 Canada Health Researcher of the Year. Here at McMaster, he’s a Distinguished University Professor who’s won a number of awards for teaching and mentoring.

His career in medicine has been truly inspiring, and among his many significant achievements in research he has led the way in developing the methodology for randomized trials and systematic reviews, and taken a leading role in more than 20 randomized trials, and published more than 70 systematic reviews.

Guyatt also contributed to the development of a medical tool – one of the first – that measures quality of life in patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. The IBDQ was first published in 1989 and has since become the “gold standard” and has made a tremendous impact on the development of Quality of Life Questionnaires for other diseases. The IBDQ has been translated into close to 100 languages and brings in revenues close to $2,000,000 US per year. 

Dr. Gordon Guyatt’s career is a true reflection of what it means to be a lifelong innovator, whose values of excellence, interdisciplinary collaboration and commitment to better health outcomes for Canadians make him most deserving of McMaster's Lifetime Innovator Award.

Innovator of the Year Award -  Mary Law

Mary Law

Mary Law not only serves as Associate Dean and Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences, she also holds the John and Margaret Lillie Chair in Childhood Disability Research and is Co-Director of the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research.

CanChild carries out research focused on improving the lives of children and youth with disabilities, and offers a resource for their families and caregivers by developing guidelines and tools to help them provide the best care and quality of life. In addition to their research strength, CanChild has built expertise in making the results of their research accessible to the general public.

Over the last year, Mary Law has led CanChild's multidisciplinary team in an initiative to reinvigorate their web site and create revenue streams through existing measures and new service offerings. This enterprise in turn will fund new knowledge translation activities -- a win-win proposition.

CanChild is celebrating 25 years this month and what they "CAN DO" together for children, for those who love them, and for the service providers and educators who are creating and sharing the knowledge that will ensure children and youth with disabilities have the opportunity to thrive at home, at school, and in the community.

Synergy Award - Ravi Selvaganapathy 

Ravi SelvaganapathyRavi Selvaganapathy is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Biomicrofluidics. 

While his Canada Research Chair title indicates that microfluidics is Selvaganapathy's area of expertise, he is also an expert at collaboration and partnering--not only with colleagues from across engineering, science and health science, but also with industry, business, and health organizations locally, nationally and internationally.

His research program not only tackles technical challenges, but also seeks to develop innovations to address the need for low-cost, efficient microdevices that could solve some of our most pressing health challenges -- research that was recognized by Grand Challenges Canada who named him one of Canada's Rising Stars. 

Industry Partner Award - Ranovus

Gay Yuyitung & Andy Knights 

The  Industry Partner Award,recognizes a company who has demonstrated a commitment to collaborating with academic researchers and, by so doing, made a significant contribution to developing the University’s research mandate.

This year’s award goes to Ranovus, an Ottawa-based telecommunications company that is developing disruptive, optical-interconnect technology for high speed communication between data centres at companies like Facebook and Google. Ranovus has been working with Andy Knights in the Department of Engineering Physics for the past two years to further develop this technology through a variety of collaborative NSERC, OCE and collaborative research projects.   During this time, 3 PhD students, 2 Master’s students and 5 undergraduate summer students have worked on the project, and Ranovus has hired 4 engineers who have worked as researchers or graduate students in the department of Engineering Physics. 

 Innovators of Distinction

The researchers below were listed as an inventor on a patent issued to McMaster over the last year -- more than a dozen of our researchers, representing six promising technologies. 

  • Michael Brook, Yang Chen and Yongxin Wang: Surface-Modifying Silicone Elastomers
  • Peter Kavsak: Method for Assessing Risk of Heart Failure
  • Philip Koshy: Electro-Erosion Edge Honing of Cutting Tools
  • Adam Kinsman, Nicola Nicolici: Automated methods to Generate Data Representations for Custom Hardware Based Numerical Computation Accelerators
  • Harald Stöver, Nick Burke and Casandra Gardner: Immuno-Compatible Hydrogel System
  • Ravi Selvaganapathy, Pouya Rezai, Bhagwati Gupta: Electrotaxis Methods and Devices

Poster Competition

Poster winners:

Commercialization potential/ Research  Breakthrough: Andrew KingAndrew King

Dept: Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Poster Title and Description:  Aspergillomarasmine A, a Natural Product from Fungi, is a Potent Inhibitor of the VIM and NDM Metallo-ß-Lactamases Restoring Carbapenem Activity.

Bacteria have evolved elegant mechanisms of resistance to the effects of antibiotic therapy. This has driven the discovery and development of many different antibiotics but it is the beta-lactam class of antibiotics (comprised largely of penicillins, cephalosporins, and carbapenems) that accounts for nearly 60% of sales in the US. Resistant bacteria use enzymes, called beta-lactamases, to inactivate these antibiotics, rendering them useless for treatment of infection. In response, researchers have developed increasingly effective beta-lactam antibiotics. This has culminated in the carbapenems, considered an antibiotic of last resort for many multidrug resistant bacterial infections. In recent years we have seen the emergence of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a group of infectious microorganisms that have become resistant to virtually all currently used antibiotics including precious carbapenems. These organisms have been labelled an “urgent threat” to public health by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making them one of three classes of microorganisms receiving the highest threat level recognized. Here we present a novel inhibitor, aspergillomarasmine A (AMA), which is able to effectively inhibit the function of a group of beta-lactamases that can confer resistance to carbapenems. By inhibiting this function, these CRE are no longer resistant to carbapenems and can be treated by a combination of AMA and existing carbapenem antibiotics. This co-treatment was shown to be effective in mouse models of CRE infection. We believe that AMA demonstrates the therapeutic potential to address the challenge of CRE and are currently undergoing pre-clinical studies to demonstrate safety and efficacy.


Commercialization Ready: Chetan Paul SinghChetan Singh

Dept:  Xerox Centre for Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation, W Booth School of Engineering Practice,

Poster title and description: RotaNovus

RotaNovus is a engineering design company. The company was created in November 2013 through the W Booth School of Engineering Practice. Douglas and Chetan are MEEI graduate candidates from the school, while Gareth is a engineering undergraduate student at McMaster University. William-James is a Fine Arts graduate from OCAD University. The team came together to create a better option for people who need help walking and use a device called a rollator. Joovo is RotaNovus’s initial product launch. The project is targeting the issue of out of date rollator designs. The problem with current rollators is that they do not meet current demands of the target market, older adults which is ages 65+. Through observations and firsthand accounts from the user group, a variety of issues were determined and categorized. The goal of this project is the biomechanical redesign of the rollator mobility solution to meet customer needs.
Jong Jung and Conor Catomeris 
Social Impact: Conor Catomeris & Jong Jung

Dept: Business (MBA)

Poster Title and Details: Music for the Senior Soul

“Every Friday morning the usual hospital sounds in the halls of the Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC) are mingled with the sounds of the guitars, keyboards and voices of Improm2Crew, the Grace’s small, dynamic house band. Music seems to touch people’s souls most deeply regardless of language, cognitive or physical difficulties, age or background. ‘That little band has meant so much to John – and to me’, a woman told me after one of the sessions. Her husband had lost the ability to move most of his body and to speak, but his face always lit up when the music began. My attention was caught another day by an elderly woman sitting quietly in her wheelchair tapping her fingers and whispering all the words to a romantic ballad along with the vocalist. I spent a few moments wondering what long-ago dance or party she was remembering and couldn’t help singing along…” – Wendy Campbell, author of Creative Forces Blog, September 2011.

This sing-a-long music program at TGHC is a huge success. Since its conception in 2006, the program has gained media attention from CBC Radio to local online blogs, describing its uniqueness and effectiveness at increasing meaningful engagement among seniors. “Active music-making has been found to provide a source of enhanced social cohesion, enjoyment, personal development, and empowerment, and to contribute to recovery from depression and maintenance of personal well-being throughout these latter stages of adult life” (Creech et. al, 2013). As founders of TGHC’s music program, we propose replicating and tailoring this program for senior-residing facilities across Canada to promote social change.

Another highlight of the McMaster Innovation Showcase was the opening of The Forge. Click here  for the Daily News Story.