MaRS Future of Medicine™ 2011: Highlighting the path from discovery to market

From the latest discoveries in neuroscience, to news from Canadian commercialization giants, we peered into the future of medicine in Ontario and found that it looks very positive.

The MaRS Future of Medicine™ 2011 Annual Conference was held at the MaRS Centre on November 17.  With an enthusiastic audience of 187 delegates and an incredible speaker line up, expectations ran high as we began the event with an engaging presentation by Ken Galbraith, General Partner of Ventures West.

Mr. Galbraith’s central theme was “The world is changing: What do we need to be doing now to succeed?” His answers included:

  • Focus on high-growth markets rather than the “traditional” US and Western Europe markets
  • Focus of areas of high medical need (whether in vogue or not)
  • Develop transformational solutions rather than features on well-worn themes

He also pointed out that Toronto is one of very few jurisdictions in the world that has the capability to develop innovations that will address future medical challenges.

David Bogart

Neuroscience Session

  • Dr. Mike Salter (SickKids) spoke eloquently about new solutions for chronic pain. I now understand the difference between nociception and pain!
  • David Bogart (Ontario Brain Institute) outlined the major initiatives being undertaken by OBI to create a powerful neuroscience cluster in Ontario.
  • Dr. Neil Cashman (Amorfix) described the challenge of overcoming protein misfoldingdiseases suchas Alzheimer’s andALS, and offered some interestingdata on attacking mis-fold specific epitopes.

    Dr. Neil Cashman

Access to Innovation Session

But it wasn’t all talk of discoveries—the Access to Innovation session focused on how to convert exciting discoveries like these into powerful products that will address critical health needs. It featured organizations responsible for translating high-value innovations arising from over $1 billion of annual r

esearch into viable commercial offerings.

  • Dr. Tom Hudson (Ontario Institute for Cancer Research) described the herculean efforts being made by OICR and its collaborators to advance genetic sequencing of tumors into routine medical practice.
  • John Soloninka (The Health Technology Exchange) described how HTX and its partners are coming together to provide a means of accelerating the validation and (hopefully) early adoption of innovative medical devices in Ontario.

    Dr. Rafi Hofstein
  • Dr. Rafi Hofstein (MaRS Innovation) described the MaRS Innovation model and stressed the importance of multi-partner collaborations to ensure that Ontario, and Canada as a whole, can be globally competitive.
  • Dr. Max Fehlmann (Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery) gave examples of academic-industry collaborations to speed drug development in Quebec and discussed the exciting prospects for further collaborations along the Ontario-Quebec corridor.

    Dr. Mark Poznansky
  • Dr. Mark Poznansky (Ontario Genomics Institute) highlighted the central importance of genetics in personalized medicine and stressed that fallingsequencing costs coupled with more powerful bioinformatics will help clinicians make much better informed and effective treatment decisions.

Partnering Forum

One of the main purposes of the MaRS Future of Medicine™ series of events is to foster and support interactions between academic and private innovators, industry, government and investors. To that end, the all-day partnering forum held during the event provided a great opportunity for discussing future collaborations among the delegates.

MaRS Discovery District wishes to express its sincere gratitude to our sponsors for their generous support:

Interested in attending next year’s event? The MaRS Future of Medicine™ 2012 Annual Conference is tentatively scheduled for November 15, 2012 and will include a focus on Diabetes and Metabolic Disease. Mark your calendars!

Finally, we’d like to thank all of our speakers and delegates for helping to create such a memorable event.