Oct. 6, 2023

UCalgary innovators celebrated at 2023 BioAlberta Achievement Awards

Awards highlight outstanding contributions to Alberta’s life sciences sector
UCalgary is Canada's Entrepreneurial University
Riley Brandt, Univeristy of Calgary

On Sept. 28, BioAlberta celebrated excellence in Alberta’s life sciences ecosystem with the 2023 Achievement Awards, which included five UCalgary innovators. The awards recognize the outstanding contributions of individuals and companies whose innovations and achievements have contributed to the growing success of Alberta’s life sciences sector.

“I am thrilled to extend my congratulations to our UCalgary innovators recognized by BioAlberta for their outstanding contributions to Alberta's life sciences ecosystem,” says Dr. Stephen Larter, associate vice-president (research & innovation), UCalgary. "Their accomplishments highlight the unique synergy that exists within our university, where entrepreneurial thinking and innovative research intersect.”

“The innovation ecosystem at UCalgary not only supports our researchers but also empowers them to make significant impacts within our community and beyond,” continues Larter.

“This recognition is a testament to the exceptional work done by our researchers and the role UCalgary plays in fostering innovation and driving economic growth in Alberta."

John Wong and Alim Mitha of Fluid Biomed

John Wong and Alim Mitha of Fluid Biomed were awarded 2023 Company of the Year at the BioAlberta Achievement awards.

Fluid Biomed

Company of the Year 

Fluid Biomed, co-founded by Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) associate professors Dr. John Wong, MD, and Dr. Alim Mitha, MD, is developing the world’s first polymer-based brain stent to cure the deadly disease of brain aneurysms.

The company and its team have designed a unique hybrid polymer-metal stent that diverts blood flow away from a weak aneurysm, allowing it to heal. This innovative medical device will allow physicians the potential to treat a wide variety of aneurysms more effectively and safely, using minimally invasive techniques.

Fluid Biomed is a graduate of the Creative Destruction Lab-Rockies (CDL-Rockies) and after seed investment from both the UCeed Health fund and the UCeed Child Health fund, local partners, as well as Canadian and U.S. venture capital firms, recently successfully launched an international first-in-human clinical trial of its stent to treat patients with brain aneurysms.

Kristina Rinker, Bob Shephard and Kenneth Fuh

Kristina Rinker and her co-founders Bob Shepherd and Kenneth Fuh received the Technology Innovation award for Syantra DX.

Courtesy Kristina Rinker

Technology Innovation Award

Dr. Kristina Rinker, PhD, P.Eng, professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering, was recognized along with her team of co-founders, including Dr. Kenneth Fuh, PhD’17, for research contributions that led to the development and commercialization of an innovative molecular diagnostic technology, Syantra DX.

Syantra Inc. is a university spinoff company that arose from work conducted in Rinker’s research group, where the early concept was demonstrated. Syantra has now developed a technology platform that enables the identification of new cancer biomarkers and drug target and allows the detection of cancer through a blood test.

Their precision medicine approach is focused on detecting disease at early stages when it’s most treatable. The first blood test available on the platform is for breast cancer. The team plans to expand test offerings to enable the detection of other types of cancer and is currently engaged in both commercial and clinical study work to achieve this goal.

Syantra has received investment through the UCeed Health Fund, and Rinker is a lab scientist mentor with CDL-Rockies.

Lawrence Korngut

Lawrence Korngut received the 2023 Vista Award for his contributions to research, technical innovations and capital attraction.

Vista Award

Dr. Lawrence Korngut, MD, MSc'14, associate professor, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, CSM, was recognized for his contributions to the field of neurology research, technical innovations through Lumiio, and capital attraction with KASTx Ventures.

Lumiio specializes in real-world data collection services that drive health outcomes. The company helps patient organizations, academic research groups, and pharmaceutical companies design world-class digital health programs to accelerate outcomes that impact patient care.

KASTx Ventures works with world-leading startup biotechnology companies to have a positive and sustainable impact globally in the areas of health, technology, and environmental sustainability. KASTx Ventures brings together experienced, values-based leaders who are recognized experts in their field with proven skills to maximize a company’s impact.

UCalgary is a leading destination for researchers to take action and move ideas toward implementation and community impact. The Innovation@UCalgary ecosystem supports these efforts through a culture of entrepreneurial thinking and determination.

John Wong is an associate professor in the departments of Clinical Neurosciences, Radiology and Surgery at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) and member of the CSM’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

Alim Mitha is an associate professor in the departments of Clinical Neurosciences, Radiology and Surgery at the CSM and member of the CSM’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute and Libin Cardiovascular Institute.

Kristina Rinker is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering and the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, CSM. She is a member of the CSM’s Charbonneau Cancer Institute, Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, Libin Cardiovascular Institute, and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

Lawrence Korngut is an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, CSM, and member and director, innovation and commercialization of the CSM’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

Sign up for UToday

Sign up for UToday

Delivered to your inbox — a daily roundup of news and events from across the University of Calgary's 14 faculties and dozens of units

Thank you for your submission.