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Clinician-scientist secures national investment

June 19, 2015

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By Eleni Kanavas

Dr. Brian Courtney is the recipient of a 2015 Innovation Fund award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The Honourable Ed Holder, minister of state (science and technology), announced the news May 29, 2015.

Courtney, a clinician-scientist in the Schulich Heart Research Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI), will receive $600,000 from CFI to establish an interventional device development and testing platform. “It is a real honour to have been awarded this grant, as it was highly competitive. The support from SRI and the many co-investigators that participated in this application is greatly appreciated,” he says. “I am very excited about being able to move forward in the development of a number of medical devices that will be prototyped and tested with the equipment that we are purchasing through this fund.”

The equipment will allow him to manufacture small parts with ultra-high resolution (precision of less than five microns, which is the size of small dust particles) in a repeatable manner using what is referred to as five-axis computer numerical control (CNC) machining. The CNC machines are routinely used to build parts for larger components that Courtney and his team use every day. He notes the equipment that will be installed is highly tuned to develop very small parts, like those found in watches and precision instruments.

“We will be able to prototype intricate miniaturized components for minimally invasive devices in a less costly and more accessible manner, while having considerably greater design flexibility than what is currently available to us for the technologies that SRI investigators and commercial collaborators are developing,” says Courtney. “It will also allow us to test these technologies in preclinical settings that more fully represent the clinical procedure rooms and catheterization labs in which these procedures will take place once they transition to human use.”

Working in SRI’s Centre for Research and Image-Guided Therapeutics (CeRIGT), he says this funding will also help to secure CeRIGT’s position as a world-leading centre where experts are working together to advance imaging technologies in oncological, musculoskeletal, neurological and cardiovascular applications.

“This will help several existing investigators at SRI fulfil their research agendas more effectively while attracting new investigators and industrial collaborators. It will allow SRI to continue to grow as a hub for providing support to Canadian medical technology innovators, startups and emerging companies that are starting to have a large international presence in the delivery of clinically relevant technologies.”

The Canada Foundation for Innovation will invest $333 million in research infrastructure to support 87 projects that will benefit 52 universities and research institutes across Canada.

Read more about Courtney’s research in Precise Guidance published in the 2015 SRI Magazine.