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Ryerson and St. Michael's Hospital partner on new research centre

The development of medical science has always been driven by advances in technology, and modern innovations are bringing the two closer together than ever. To help make the most of that relationship, St. Michael's Hospital and Ryerson University have announced a new partnership: an initiative that will allow clinician scientists from the former and engineers from the latter to work together collaboratively.

The Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Science Technology (iBest) will be housed in the Keenan Research Centre at St. Michael's, and will include space for about 15 Ryerson faculty members and another 40 or so students—researchers whose work has health care applications. It will also include a new incubator, similar to Ryerson's well-known Digital Media Zone, specifically for the development of biomechanical products that can be commercialized and used in patient care.

"I think it's the increased reliance on technological developments in the delivery of medical treatment that has catalyzed collaborations" like iBest, says Dr. Ori Rotstein, director of the Keenan Research Centre. "In the era before computing to have a computer scientist to help you manage data wasn't really something that you did," he adds by way of example. "Before computers and advanced engineering it was kind of ad hoc."

These collaborations reflect an advancement that certainly is welcome, and perhaps overdue. Though there are many sectors that have been working in this interdisciplinary way for a long time, it has come more slowly in academic medical contexts. Rotstein goes on: "Industry has been doing this for a long time. There are lot of companies that make medical devices that have been doing this for a long time. Academic institutions have been siloed…but the need is really an imperative."

In addition to advances in patient care, iBest will provide new opportunities for student training. "The idea will be that we're going to collaborate in student supervision," Rotstein explains. "That means it's possible if there's a medical student or a resident who wants to do his or her research training in an area that's relevant to science and engineering…they could be co-supervised."

iBest is slated to open in the spring of 2015.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Ori Rotstein, Director, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science
Photo: Yuri Markarov, Medical Media, St. Michael's Hospital
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