Dr. Kevin Kain holding award
Dr. Kevin Kain, holding the plaque he won in 2003 and still keeps on the wall of his office at UHN. He was recognized with the inaugural award for his work on new treatments for malaria, including a treatment for the most severe and frequently fatal form of the disease. (Photo: UHN)

Every day, medical milestones and scientific breakthroughs happen at UHN that are game changers for patient care around the world.

Initiated in 2003 and awarded annually, the Inventor of the Year Award, sponsored by Commercialization at UHN, recognizes an individual or team whose medical invention has made a substantial and noteworthy commercialization contribution leading to A Healthier World.

"The Inventor of the Year Award recognizes researchers at UHN for their inventiveness in research, critical contributions and commercial successes to impact patient lives and their quality of life," says Dr. Brad Wouters, UHN's Executive Vice President, Science and Research.

"It demonstrates the importance UHN places on contributions to commercialization as a path towards our larger goal of improving the lives of patients and families in Canada and around the world."

Over the years, recipients of the award have included pioneers in regenerative medicine technologies, immune therapies, artificial intelligence assisted digital health solutions, medical devices, advancements in personalized medicine for cancer, cutting edge diagnostics and transplant technologies transforming care for organ recipients.

In some cases, they have gone on to form biotech companies scaling solutions for patients, and in others, their inventions are used in clinical care around the world.

"Each medical breakthrough begins with an idea," says Mark Taylor, Director of Commercialization at UHN, noting each year his group receives nearly 100 new ideas or invention disclosures. "What is exciting about working with our researchers is that you are often at various stages of scaling the next medical breakthrough set to change the lives of patients.

"More than 100 years ago, this was the case for insulin. It is truly an honour."

20th Annual Inventor of the Year. Nominate a UHN inventor today! Team UHN can nominate here: bit.ly/IOTY20-23. Nominations close Steptember 29, 2023
Nominations are now open for the 20th annual UHN Inventor of the Year Award. Learn more and nominate someone. (Graphic: Commercialization at UHN)

The inaugural Inventor of the Year Award in 2003 went to Dr. Kevin Kain for his work on new treatments for malaria, including a treatment for the most severe and frequently fatal form of the disease. Today, he continues this work with a novel approach to fever management.

"The Inventor of the Year Award is an excellent benchmark to gauge whether an invention will eventually reach patients," says Dr. Kain, now a Senior Scientist at UHN's Toronto General Hospital Research Institute and Scientific Director of the Tropical Disease Unit at Toronto General Hospital.

"It's also a crucial part of building commercialization culture – it's the type of acknowledgement that spurs clinician scientists like myself, as well as researchers, to continue their work and to consider patenting something they might not otherwise think to.

"This is all part of driving better health and innovation for patients at UHN and beyond."

Past Winners of the UHN Inventor of the Year Award

2003Dr. Kevin Kain
2004Dr. Dan Drucker
2005Dr. Joe Fisher
2006Dr. Andres Lozano
2007Dr. David Jaffray
2008Drs. Ming-Sound Tsao, Frances A. Shepherd, and Igor Jurisica
2009Drs. Mohammad Islam and Michael Sharpe
2010Dr. Gang Zheng
2011Dr. Aaron Schimmer
2012Dr. Thomas Purdie
  • Dr. Tak Mak and CFIBCR
  • Dr. Ralph DaCosta
2014Dr. Milos Popovic
2015Drs. Hisham Alshaer, T. Douglas Bradley and Geoff Fernie
2016Dr. Christopher Paige
2017Drs. Gordon Keller and Michael Laflamme
2018Drs. Shaf Keshavjee and Marcelo Cypel
2019Dr. Naoto Hirano
2020/21Drs. Daniel De Carvalho and Scott Bratman
2022Drs. Heather Ross and Joseph Cafazzo

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