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2017 Finalists

Dr. Heather Sheardown, Francis Lasowski, Ben Muirhead, 20/20 Optimeyes

20/20 Optimeyes 


Dr. Heather Sheardown (pitctured), Frances Lasowski (pictured), Ben Muirhead

At 20/20 OptimEyes, we have developed a mucoadhesive micelle that is intended to work as an improved eye drop. Despite being a platform technology, it will initially be developed with cyclosporine A for the treatment of dry eye disease. This micelle is patent pending, with a unique triblock copolymer providing its favourable properties. We have shown to date that the micelles release the drug in excess of 7 days and that they are mucoadhesive. In animal models, we have not shown any toxicity and have confirmed their adhesive properties. This is beneficial for our application, as it allows us to decrease the number of doses from the currently industry standard of twice a day to only twice a week. This is more convenient for patients, but more importantly reduces side effects of current treatments. In particular, the eyedrops themselves are painful and little drug actually enters the eye so treatments can take months to work. Because our formulation is different and actually sticks to the eye, more drug enters the eye and we anticipate this will improve clinical outcomes. We are currently completing our preclinical package and hope to move into clinical trials in late 2017.

Saad Asif, student participent, 20/20 Optimeyes

Student Participant: Saad Asif

I am a motivated, creative and analytical student looking to work in health science technology commercialization post graduation. Holding a Bachelor of Science in health sciences from the University of Toronto, and currently in my 2nd year of my MBA at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster, I am uniquely positioned to understand both the technical and business side of your innovation. With experience in commercialization and go-to-market strategy for innovative cardiology medical devices, I'm eager to to use my my strong analytical and written skills to develop a robust commercialization strategy and business plan aligned with your long-term vision.

Navneet Makker, student participent, 20/20 Optimeyes

Student Participant: Navneet Makker

Navneet is currently a first-year MBA student at the DeGroote School of Business. In 2014, she graduated from the University of Calgary with a Major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Business (Management and Society). Before starting the MBA program, Navneet spent two years working as a Research Assistant, and was involved in clinical research that tested new drugs for patients with asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). In her spare time, Navneet enjoys hiking, canoeing, travelling, and reading books about outer space. 

Spencer Waugh, Ace Age

Ace Age


Spencer Waugh 


At AceAge, we have developed a household device named Karie to help patients take their medication properly, and a platform that records the data of when each patient took their medication. These together will increase drug adherence, which will improve patient health outcomes, lower healthcare costs, and increase drug sales. Our device uses the common multi-dose pouch packaging that pre-organizes drugs for each patient. We use the information on the packaging to automatically schedule for the patient. As a result, anyone using our device doesn’t have to worry about a thing, other than being there. It is like a completely automated alarm clock for your medication. We designed our device to be simple, with a single load action, and single button, so anybody can use it. Adherence is automatically tracked, and can collect patient reported outcomes for research. If the patient forgets to take their medication, then a notification can be sent through our Android/iOS application to the family members or caregivers of their choosing to call and remind the patient to take their medication. Demo of our device:

Chitman Josan, student participant, Ace Age

Student Participant: Chitman Josan

Chitman Josan is a Health Sciences graduate student at McMaster University. She is pursuing her Masters in Science, with the goal of obtaining a PhD, and aspires to work in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector as a scientific leader. From her undergraduate journey (class of 2016), Chitman has knowledge and experience in both the scientific field (biochemistry lab work) and business sector (internship experience). Chitman is passionate to bridge the gap between science, technology and business, in the hopes that this interdisciplinary collaboration uses the available creativity and resourcefulness to innovate, discover and provide solutions to health care problems worldwide.

Henry Hu, Enhanced Medical Nutrition

Enhanced Medical Nutrition 


Eric Zimmerman, Henry Hu (pictured), Zachary Lin

Enhanced Medical Nutrition Inc. ("EMN") is a life sciences organization engaged in developing, researching, producing, and distributing evidence-based clinical nutrition. The foundation of our company is directly related to current research and innovation in clinical nutrition.


Oncology patients are often nutritionally unprepared for surgery. Already disadvantaged by lack of immune function, invasive surgery creates an elevated risk of infection and extended length of stay for oncology patients as well as an increased economic risk to the healthcare system. INergy™, EMN’s initial product offering is a liquid formulation/beverage that patients take before and after surgery. INergy™ helps boost the immune system and reduces risk of a surgical infection and prolonged length of stay.

Navita Dyal, Era Diabetes

Era Diabetes


Navita Dyal (pictured), Vinay Yuvashankar, Dr. McAssey, Dr. Bayney

Era Diabetes is a novel glucose self-management system, designed for children with type 1 diabetes. Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) is an essential component of achieving glycemic control. The goal of SMBG is to collect detailed information about glucose levels throughout the day, to then inform the necessary adjustments in diet, physical activity, and insulin doses to improve glycemic control. Era, named after the father of SMBG, Ernest Adams, is a mobile application which uses gamification to incentivize, and encourage, this behaviour. 

Renishaki Kamal, Fidget Toys

Fidget Toys


Renishaki Kamal

Fidget Toys is disrupting the current hand-held world of stress-relief toys. We are designing intuitive toys that facilitate movement while stationary (anywhere you're stationary or sitting) to increase concentration. Alongside designing such devices, we are particularly focusing on children that fall on the Autism Spectrum. Hoping to raise awareness and disrupt current environments and cater them to human behaviour. A first of it's kind multi-functional stress-relief toy for the feet, it has pedals to cater the need of controlled and repetitive behaviour and rollers to increase stimulation; both movements increase circulation and overall concentration. Working closely with product and manufacturing specialist to understand and use the right materials and structure costs associated with customers in mind. Funds will help explore more materials for the product- will go towards primary manufacturing costs, such as moulds. We are currently undergoing beta testing with our prototype which we have yet to followup with the OBI group for support, and we hope to connect and solidify many more distribution channels like Mastermind toys. MVP is currently being built with versions of the working prototypes to be tested within focus groups at (2) Autism Awareness Centres. Direct relationship - my nephew, Kavin who is my inspiration, his mum who is an ambassador of Fidget Toys.

Madeline Rudolph, student participant, Fidget Toys

Student Participant: Madeline Rudolph

I grew up in Richmond Hill, where in High School I realized my passion for life sciences. I went to McMaster to continue my education in biochemistry, but after I got a job in condominium marketing and sales in the summer after my first year, I realized that I was interested in business as well. So, in my third year, I entered the Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization program, where I have been exposed to accounting, finance, and marketing, and have had the chance to learn about biotech and drug discovery, and to carry out biomedical research in microbiology.

Lidia Sienkowska, Hal Cal

Hal Cal 


Lidia Sienkowska

Hal Cal is a mobile app that enables users to keep track of healthcare appointments with all of their providers, access verified public health information, and manage their personal health information in one secure place. 100% consumer driven, Hal Cal empowers users to be in the driver's seat of their health. 

The app is perfect for busy moms who manage health appointments on behalf of the entire family, adult children who together manage care for their elderly parents, and individuals who suffer from complex chronic conditions and needs to see multiple providers for various things. 

The app also tailors public health information such as screenings, health awareness campaigns, and various initiatives to users based on their unique Hal Cal profile. The information is gathered from trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US National Library of Medicine, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Roman Korytnikov, student participant, Hal Cal

Student Participant: Roman Korytnikov

I’m passionate about healthcare and innovation. Ever since my undergraduate studies, I’ve been working in research environments such as St. Michael’s Hospital and SickKids. These experiences motivated me to pursue a Master of Science degree at the University of Toronto, in which I focused on the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes using stem cells. I’ve successfully executed my thesis project in its entirety, filing a first-author patent with University Health Network that characterized the role of novel chemical inhibitors. Currently, I’m pursuing an MBA due to my interests in healthcare management and commercialization.

Jacob Jackson, Nawal Behih, Ahmed Elmeligi, HiNT


Jacob Jackson, Nawal Behih, Ahmed Elmeligi

Stroke is the second leading cause of death and the number one cause of disabilities in the world. There are five million warning stroke incidents every year, and 30% of all strokes are preceded by a warning stroke. A warning stroke provides a unique opportunity to care for a patient before a detrimental, life-changing stroke occurs. Currently very little is done by the healthcare system to seize this opportunity. At HiNT, we take advantage of this biological warning event to care for high-risk patients. Furthermore, the highly effective treatment for stroke must be received within a short time window (4.5 hours from the onset of a stroke).


Using EEG (Electroencephalography), a simple non-invasive technology, HiNT is developing a wearable point-of-care medical device that can monitor and alert high-risk patients, their caregivers, and emergency services if they are having a stroke. The device is a comfortable wearable headband that patients can wear from the comfort of their home. The device constantly monitors patients’ electrophysiological brain waves and detects when a stroke happens through a classification algorithm immediately at the onset of a stroke. This in turn allows patients to be rushed to the highly effective treatment in a timely manner, allowing them to maintain their quality of life, drastically reducing the cost of recovery and the risks of mortality and morbidity.

Ming Li, student participant, HiNT

Student Participant: Ming Li

Ming founded Ming Microsystems in 2008 when he envisioned the potential for computers to solve real problems. Today, he had already published computer software and a smartphone app that are currently being used by different organizations. As a scholar, Ming succeeded in his diverse involvements in biological research – from plants to humans. He had communicated his research with co-authorships on primary scientific papers, symposium poster presentations, as well as oral presentations. Media coverage in magazines and UToronto Boundless featured Ming for his exceptional work in research. Ming is passionate about solving complex real world problems with innovative technology.

Mandakini Jain, ImagineMed Inc

ImagineMED Inc.


Mandakini Jain (pictured), Akiv Jhirad, John Barbirez

ImagineMED Inc. is a Canadian medical device and technology company committed to developing innovative diagnostic and monitoring technologies that allow physicians to focus on improving efficiencies and patient outcomes. ImagineMED is an early-stage startup on the pathway to commercializing a portable, point-of-care technology called the Near-Infrared Cerebral Scanner (NICS) that enables users to detect the presence of a hematoma (bleed within the skull) within minutes, and facilitates collection, analysis and transmission of real-time clinical data. NICS has the potential to increase efficiency of triage from injury to diagnosis, reducing the incidences of mortality related to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and the number of false positives in the current qualitative diagnostic techniques for hematomas.

Daniel (Haiming) Luo, student participant, ImagineMED inc

Student Participant: Daniel (Haiming) Luo

I am a 5th year Chemical Biology undergraduate student with co-op education. I spent my last two years fully immersing myself in interdisciplinary research between science and engineering. My previous work placements included being a process sciences technician at a protein purification start-up company named Natrix Separations and a research assistant at McGill University. For my honours thesis, I spent 7 months researching in the Hoare lab on drug delivery nanoparticles that eventually became a novel invention that was filed for a US provisional patent. I am very interested in both research and commercialization.

Kha Tram, InnovoGENE


Kha Tram (pictured), Mimi Deng

InnovoGENE Biosciences is a biotechnology company credited with the development of ANDzyme, a proprietary platform which utilizes DNA-based sensors to accurately screen for bacterial pathogens. This exciting technology is currently being applied to detect E. coli in recreational waters supplies. E. coli has been used as an indicator for many years to evaluate general water quality; however, the current encumbered and costly method requires 24-72 hours of testing. This delay poses major risks to public health as the interim water quality remains unknown. In addition, inclement weather often causes unpredictable levels of E. coli due to agricultural runoffs or urban sewage overflow. The economic burden for the local public health unit to test each recreational water site is high, and this problem is compounded by the need to test multiple locations.


The ANDzyme platform addresses many of these challenges by developing an affordable and accurate on-field test that can determine water quality within an hour. This simple test is intuitive and requires no expensive equipment. These features will provide beach managers and municipalities with the tools to promote public health and keep our communities safe. 

Gariella Demmings, student participant, InnovoGENE

Student Participant: Gabriella Demmings 

Recently having graduated from the University of Guelph with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Genetics, I am currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration at McMaster University. I am passionate about communicating complex scientific principles to all audiences, to ensure scientific literacy and critical thinking skills. When faced with the propagation of misinformation surrounding important applications of science, ensuring the continued use – and future development – of innovations is critical. Outside of my interest in the intersection of science and business, I am an avid reader and Netflix aficionado.

Phillipp Kolb, student participant, InnovoGENE

Student Participant: Phillipp Kolb

Currently pursuing an MBA at the DeGroote School of Business, I am looking to supplement my extensive medical research background with a practical business skillset. My experiences in research span both clinical and basic science projects which explored the various aspects of a lung disease known as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. As a study coordinator I was able understand the perspectives of patients first-hand and my experiences as a researcher in a wet-lab setting have exposed me to the exciting and cutting-edge methodologies involved in research and development. I have published my work in academic journals and presented at international conferences.

Filip Stankovic, Ariel Zohar, Kinly



Filip Stankovic (pictured), Ariel Zohar (pictured), Carlos Lozano, Bliss Man

Technology helps us stay connected, but bringing elderly loved ones into our digital lives remains challenging. Since Kinly was founded in September 2016, we are bridging the communications divide between generations through addressing the barriers presented by modern technology. Kinly eliminates the need for our elderly loved ones to engage with inaccessible or unfamiliar devices, developing a web-based app and set-top device to share content from your favourite social media, text, and video-based platforms to any television set. Staying connected with your whole family has never been so simple.

Sarrah Lal, student participant, Kinly

Student Participant: Sarrah Lal

After completing an undergraduate degree in Chemical Biology (drug discovery and development), during which I pursued sixteen months of work in R&D within the pharmaceutical industry, and completed a thesis and research project in infectious disease research, I dabbled in a career in clinical research. After a year, I started my MBA program, wherein I focused on strategy and analytics. I gained experience in various consulting type roles within financial services (business intelligence at BMO Financial Group), technology (corporate market intelligence at Samsung Electronics Canada) and an independent consultancy (doing market research, primary research study design, strategic development, business planning, process mapping, etc. for a number of organizations). 

Eliav Shaked, RetiSpec



Eliav Shaked (pictured), Maximiliano Guiliani, Roy Kirshon

RetiSpec is developing an advanced, non-invasive, non-radioactive eye scanner to detect the presence of Alzheimer’s Disease hallmark biomarkers in the human eye. Our proprietary imaging device is based on hyperspectral imaging technology, currently used by NASA and agriculture. We are applying this technology to detect Alzheimer’s Disease biomarkers at minimum cost and discomfort to the patient at an early stage of the disease. RetiSpec offers an affordable clinical value proposition: a low cost early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. 

- A non-invasive technology adapted to use in physician’s office
- Facilitates early intervention with emerging therapeutics
- Supports patient monitoring and care planning for cost-effective case management
- Potential for adoption as a routine screening test

There is a dire need for a low-cost, early way for screening patients. Our product will be a catalyst for Alzheimer’s Disease research, dramatically reduce diagnostic costs and will open the window to proactive, rather than reactive, treatment of the disease.  

Meghan Rothenbroker, student participant, RetiSpec

Student Participant: Meghan Rothenbroker

I am a passionate female scientist who consistently seeks out opportunities to get involved, both academically and socially. Despite having only transferred to McMaster University last year, I have been a welcome week leader, an athlete in the Ontario Science Games, and am currently a game day supervisor for intramurals and VP Finance of the Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization Society. I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with others and working together to achieve a common goal. If selected I will bring no shortage of enthusiasm and expertise, trying my best to represent the university in a professionally outstanding way.

Sepher Manochehry, Urinanalyze



Sepehr Manochehry

Urinanalyze is developing a dipstick device, similar to a pregnancy test, packaged into a simple at-home kit to allow monitoring of levels of prostate cancer biomarkers in the urine. By employing a DNA-based alternative to antibodies, our device offers lower costs of synthesis, and long-shelf life, while being highly target-specific. We hope to license our technology to existing major players in the diagnostics area, to achieve distribution as an at-home test, where placing the dipstick in a sample of urine, followed by dipping in 3 vials containing our proprietary reagents, which culminates with a colour change that allows the individual to monitor the levels of an array of important indicators of prostate cancer by assessing the speed of colour change to determine the concentration. Such a kit would be targeted to the 2.9 individuals currently diagnosed in the US, thereby providing them a trend line to help track progression or regression of the disease during the 6-12 month intervals between tests with standard approaches, with hopes of eventually being a replacement for the tests at the yearly checkup.  

Amy Gorth, student participant, Urinanalyze

Student Participant: Amy Gorth

Amy is in her second year of DeGroote’s MBA Co-op program. She completed her first work term at Innovation Factory where she learned about entrepreneurship and helped start-up companies grow their businesses. Her second work term was at the South West Regional Cancer Program, in London, where she helped the organization plan and execute several quality improvement projects. Throughout her MBA and undergraduate studies in biology at Western University, Amy has held several leadership positions in various clubs and intramural activities. Amy is excited to combine her passions of healthcare and business in the Synapse Life Science Competition! 

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