Sept. 3, 2020

Life Sciences Fellows creates impact through startup creation

Program helps develop research-intensive science into viable companies

As Calgary focuses on diversifying its economy through innovation in technology, University of Calgary graduates are joining a movement to put our city on the map as a leader for life science-based innovation. The entrepreneurs are taking the latest research in medical imaging, COVID-19 diagnostics, pain management, and facial surgery to develop products for patients by starting their own companies.

The Life Sciences Fellowship program is a welcome asset for those looking to start their entrepreneurial journey, and with support from the Life Sciences Innovation Hub, these companies are poised to begin the transition from startup to scale-up.

Chenchen Bing, a UCalgary master of science student in Biomedical Engineering, member of the first Life Sciences Fellowship cohort, and CEO of NovusTX Devices, is developing transducers to improve the precision and resolution limits of current ultrasound technology. “[Our company] was founded with the support of the Life Sciences Fellowship Program,” Bing explains.

As a Fellow, I feel we can better prepare ourselves for the business world, and ultimately convert our research to valuable products that benefit society.

Dr. Jim Wilson, PhD, is the Fellowship program lead, and senior manager of talent development at Innovate Calgary. Dr. Wilson sees an increased interest in moving research projects towards products for patients and researchers moving towards entrepreneurship. “The Life Sciences Fellowship program supports the transition from research and development into creating products or services that will access the market through startup creation,” says Wilson. “It also creates a rich, experiential learning program that builds highly skilled entrepreneurial teams, equipped and trained to address the challenges of launching innovative life science-based products.”

With the first and second cohorts well on their way, the call for applications for the third cohort is now open. Funded in partnership with Alberta Innovates, Fellows will receive financial and business development support and access to an equipped lab and office space at the Life Sciences Innovation Hub for digital and health-focused initiatives.

Life Sciences Fellows first cohort

To date, the Life Sciences Fellowship has welcomed two cohorts, both comprised of four life sciences-based companies that include:

  • Jérémie Bourqui, MSc'18, P Eng., RF engineering

Bourqui’s company, Wave View Imaging Inc., is developing novel imaging technology to monitor breast cancer treatment. Wave View’s advanced technology uses microwave signals to provide objective measures of breast tissue health, at the point of care, without discomfort, in a matter of minutes, and at a low cost.

  • Chenchen Bing, MSc, Biomedical Engineering

Bing’s company, NovusTX Devices, is developing transducers to improve the current ultrasound technology’s precision and resolution limits. Their technology has applications in pre-clinical research in neurosciences and non-invasive therapy of brain disorders with focused ultrasound.

  • Cody Doolan

Doolan’s company, Illucidx, strives to positively affect clinical and patient outcomes by providing ultra-sensitive, state-of-the-art infectious disease diagnostic tools for clinical applications. Their current focus is on creating economical near-patient malaria and COVID-19 diagnostic tests developed in low- and middle-income countries and resource-limited settings. We want to enable nucleic acid detection diagnostics to be performed anywhere without a laboratory or expensive equipment.

  • Chris D’Esterre, PhD, Clinical Neurosciences

Andromeda Medical Imaging Inc. develops advanced back end neuroimaging algorithms, including structural/functional and clinical prediction models. The company is focused on stroke and dementia patients.

Life Sciences Fellowship second cohort

  • Raied Aburashed

Aburashed’s company, Vibratus, is developing hardware and software analytics for measuring human movement control and fidelity. The company is developing a wearable device embedded in a smart garment. The system can help neuropathy patients improve their movement or can be used during running, athletics, or interval training to enhance sports performance and clinical assessments.

  • Christopher Bladen, PhD, Molecular Neuroscience

Dr. Bladen’s company, Zymedyne Inc., aims to develop safer, more effective treatments for chronic, neuropathic pain by targeting human proteins called “T-type” calcium channels that are known to be crucial in pain signaling. Unlike opioids, their technology aims to achieve pain relief without the detrimental side effects of weight gain, respiratory depression, and addiction associated with opioid-based medications.

  • David Katz, JD, PhD, Evolutionary Anthropology; Cell Biology & Anatomy

Dr. Katz’s company, AIandlit Medical Aesthetics Inc., is developing software tools to improve facial plastic surgery outcomes through rigorous quantifications of biological variation in facial form. Their products will help guide physicians and patients’ aesthetic choices with a statistical estimate of local and global relationships among facial features.

  • Lin Tang, PhD,08

Dr. Tang’s company, AnthoBio Inc., is a natural product company dedicated to developing plant-derived, safe, scientifically proven, and clinically validated natural health products to improve prognosis in people with multiple sclerosis.


Interested in applying for a Life Sciences Fellowship? Learn about the application process, program, and eligibility in a recorded webinar session led by the program lead, Jim Wilson. Watch here.