Institute in Montreal will devise new technologies
May 3, 2017
MONTRÉAL – TransMedTech Institute has been launched at CHU Sainte-Justine, in partnership with Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal, Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, the Jewish General Hospital of Montreal, and several other government, business and academic partners.
It also benefits from $60 million in funding from its partners, as well as a $35.6-million grant from the federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund.
The institute combines the talents of researchers, physicians, engineers, patients, students, equipment vendors, and public health system stakeholders to devise the medical technologies of tomorrow.
Headed by Dr. Carl-Éric Aubin, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal and a CHU Sainte-Justine researcher, the project – the only one of its kind in Canada – is dedicated to accelerating the design, development and implementation of innovative diagnosis and treatment solutions for the three main groups of diseases that pose the greatest threats to the health of Canadians: cancer, cardiovascular illnesses and musculoskeletal disorders.
“TransMedTech is a whole new way of approaching healthcare research and innovation,” says Professor Aubin, the recently appointed Executive and Scientific Director of the Institute. “The Institute’s cornerstone is its Living Lab, an open-innovation ecosystem that will be located at CHU Sainte-Justine.”
He added, “By breaking down barriers between research, medicine, industry R&D, and healthcare delivery, we are establishing an extremely fertile environment for the sharing of expertise and the mobilization of knowledge, where everyone learns from the experience and know-how of others. Every idea, whether it originates with a researcher, a physician, an engineer, a patient, or an industry professional, can help bring about a solution, which is then validated. We’re talking about true collective intelligence.”
In the traditional linear process of scientific innovation, the time between the emergence of a new solution concept and deployment of the eventual commercialized product in healthcare settings is measured in years or even decades. The open-innovative approach implemented at the TransMedTech Institute aims to reduce cycle times for development, validation, transfer to the healthcare system, and use. It also takes into account the socio-economic issues affecting the healthcare system, biomedical product and service providers, and the population.
“From the social and human standpoints, the fight against cancer is a necessity and priority. Access to new technologies that improve diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment monitoring of cancer tumours will have a considerable impact on cure rates for our patients,” said Dr. Té Vuong (pictured), a radiation oncologist and director of the Segal Cancer Center’s Radiation Oncology facility at the Jewish General Hospital.
“Working in interdisciplinary teams means that these new technologies, like nanorobotics, will lead to new paths to cures that involve less toxicity and need not rely on mutilating surgery,” she said. “This approach creates both wealth and the hope for successful treatments with benefits including better quality of life and greater cost-effectiveness for our health system.”
The research teams currently working at the TransMedTech Institute already possess internationally renowned expertise in the priority target areas: cancer, cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal disorders. Each of these fields poses significant challenges for our healthcare system, given the aging population, the complexity of the diseases involved, and the growing need for qualified resources within the system.
The Institute is expected to deliver a wide array of technological breakthroughs, from screening, diagnosis and prognosis tools to minimally invasive treatment and care tools, real-time augmented reality-assisted navigation tools, biomaterials, smart materials, personalized rehabilitative and assistive technologies, and more.
“Patients have vital knowledge stemming from their personal experiences living with disease and in the healthcare system,” explained Vincent Dumez, a patient and co-director of the Université de Montréal Centre of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public (CEPPP). “They are increasingly well informed and involved in their care. They also have a growing desire to share that knowledge with members of the scientific and industrial community, and play proactive roles in the development of solutions. So, the TransMedTech Institute is going to help us shift into high gear in the patient-as-partner era.”
Boasting a critical mass of some 60 researchers, comprising leading players in their respective fields, major names in the medical technology industry, and essential health-sector policy-makers, the TransMedTech Institute clearly has what it takes to attract the best talents.
That attractiveness will be confirmed in the months to come, with some 30 researchers set to join the ranks of the Institute, along with highly qualified staff and specialists in innovation.
In addition, a hundred or so students will have the opportunity to work at the heart of this open-innovation ecosystem, in the process acquiring extraordinary scientific and entrepreneurial skills, ranging from proficiency in basic, applied and clinical research methodologies to expertise in technological innovation and deep understanding of challenges, concepts and cultures specific to various disciplines and areas.
The impact of the TransMedTech Institute on Montréal’s positioning in the health sciences and technology sector promises to be considerable, with lasting concrete effects on the industry — all the more so given that it will be convergent with that of the other two technology ecosystems recently implemented in the city: the Institut de valorisation des données (Institute for Data Valorization, or IVADO) and the McGill University NeuroHub, resulting in tremendous potential for synergies.
The Institute will also provide public-policy-makers with a better understanding of the needs of patients and health professionals in Montréal and beyond.
Canada First Research Excellence Fund
The Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) supports post-secondary institutions in their efforts to become global research leaders. The Fund helps them to make breakthrough discoveries, seize emerging opportunities and strategically advance their greatest strengths on the global stage, and implement large-scale, transformational and forward-thinking institutional strategies.