Niagara has the potential to lead the province – possibly the world – in healthcare intiatives.
That was the consensus arrived at recently at the Life Sciences Ontario Knowledge Networking Breakfast, co-hosted by Brock University’s BioLinc and Niagara Economic Development.
The event featured a discussion about Niagara’s Healthcare ecosystem in which an international panel talked about improving health, life and the economy in Niagara. Panel members agreed that if entrepreneurs and policymakers take advantage of readily available or emerging technologies, work in collaboration with healthcare facilities, and engage the community to embrace the potential, it could result in huge opportunities for Niagara to be a provincial and global leader in healthcare initiatives.
Panelists Suzanne Johnston, President, Niagara Health System; Dr. Yousef Haj-Ahmad, President and CEO, Norgen Biotek Corp.; Pat Whalen, COO, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus; and Pat Clifford, Director, Research and Innovation, Southlake Regional Health Centre, all agreed that with the technologies that exist in Niagara today, significant efficiencies and savings can be reached.
One example is personalized diagnostics, which took 13 years and $1 billion to develop. It can now be done in one day at a cost of $1,000. This ability to map your personal human genome means – among other things – that drugs can be more effectively prescribed based on your genetics, eliminating trial and error, and reducing the costs to our healthcare system, as well as possible side effects.
They warned however, that a solid business plan is required to such ideas working.
Bringing ideas into reality was the focus of the second half of the event. Dr. Julielynn Wong, founder and CEO of 3D4MD, set the pace with her presentation on how 3D printing can create medical equipment for doctors working in remote areas. Many of her innovations have been used on the International Space Station where supplies are few and that one crucial instrument can make all the difference.
The morning wrapped up with a panel discussion on funding possibilities to help innovators get their ideas to market where, once again, collaboration was considered the key. The panel consisted of Matthew Johnson from the Ontario Centres of Excellence AdvancingHealth Program; Hadi Salah from the EXCITE Program of MaRs Health; John Soloninka from the REACH Program of the Health Technology Exchange; Dan Wasserman from Mammoth Health Innovations; and Dr. Morris Milner Professor Emeritus, IBBME, University of Toronto.