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Program aims to develop medical device leaders

John CaponeLONDON, Ont. – Western University has established the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship program – a new endeavour that immerses highly talented young scientists, engineers, and clinicians in a training and research environment with the goal of developing future leaders and innovators of world-class medical technologies.

The three inaugural fellows are Dr. John Matheson from Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), Asha Parekh from Western Engineering and Ali Tavallaei from Western Engineering and Robarts Research Institute.

“The sustainability of Canada’s healthcare system depends on innovation. There are unique challenges in developing innovative technology that will both benefit patients and improve the quality of healthcare. This program provides us with the suitable skills necessary to overcome these challenges,” says Parekh.

Matheson, Parekh and Tavallaei were recruited for the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship with a view to creating a team that blends knowledge and experience in areas such as biomedical engineering, medical physics, biological sciences, clinical medicine, software engineering, and technology development.

The 10-and-a-half-month program, includes:

• A five-week Boot Camp at the University of Minnesota’s Medical Devices Center, where more than 100 academic researchers, clinicians, industry representatives, and venture capitalists will provide training on innovation, prototyping, intellectual property, regulatory affairs, and business strategy.

• Participation in WORLDiscoveries Week at Western Research Park, where the fellows will receive further instruction on the policies and procedures at Western, Lawson and its research partners, along with their intellectual property and regulatory guidelines.

• A four-week clinical immersion at London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Healthcare where the fellows will shadow clinicians in operating rooms, clinics, and imaging suites to identify unmet clinical needs.

• Designing, prototyping and testing promising innovations and technologies with scientists and researchers at Western, Lawson, Robarts Research Institute and the University of Minnesota’s Medical Devices Center.

The Western Medical Innovation Fellowship program is co-directed by Lisa Cechetto, Executive Director of WORLDiscoveries, and Matthew Teeter, a scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and an assistant professor of Medical Biophysics at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Mitacs is a partner of the Fellowship program through its support of postdoctoral training and research collaborations. The Collaborative Training Program in Musculoskeletal Health Research at Western’s Bone and Joint Institute is also a partner.

The program runs in partnership with The University of Minnesota’s Medical Devices Center’s Innovation Fellows program, a full immersion educational and product development program for medical device creation. The first innovation fellow program was developed by Stanford University in 2001 and The University of Minnesota followed in 2008. Northwestern University also developed an innovation fellow program in 2013.

“We are very excited about this new initiative, which seeks to fill a critical need in Canada in the development of highly qualified individuals that are trained in innovation and entrepreneurship in areas that are vital for our competitiveness and economic growth,” says John Capone (pictured), Western’s vice-president (research). “Our partnerships with the University of Minnesota, and with Mitacs in this endeavor, and our initial focus on medical technologies, will ensure its success, and long term benefits to Ontario and to Canada.”

For more information, please visit http://www.uwo.ca/research/funding/students/MIF.html

About Western
Western University delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.

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