Champion of health care innovation discusses how emerging technologies and growing collaboration by research and industry benefits all Ontarians

Toronto (Jan. 22, 2007) - More than 200 leaders from academia, industry, the health care sector and government attended an Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and Toronto Board of Trade breakfast today to hear Dr. Robert Bell, President and Chief Executive Officer of University Health Network (UHN) discuss the economic and social benefits of health care innovation in Ontario.

"The relationships between academia and industry that Ontario Centres of Excellence creates an environment where vital new medical research can be accelerated," said Dr. Bell. "This new environment has also contributed to a growing brain gain for Ontario."

The Ontario Centres of Excellence and UHN have enjoyed a 14 year partnership working together to foster innovative health research. With support from OCE's Centre of Excellence for Photonics, the UHN's Laboratory for Applied Biophotonics (LAB) have made significant advances in early diagnostics, minimally-invasive therapies and tools for biotechnology.

Specifically, Dr. Bell illustrated how Ontario's research hospitals, in collaboration with OCE and Ontario-based research companies, are playing an integral role in the future of global health care.

Some examples of our partnerships include:

1) Fluorescence Endoscopy: Toronto-based Xillix Technologies Corp has developed a biophotonic solution using light to dust for the fingerprints of malignant cells. Results:

  • Device makes early detection more efficient and more widely available
  • Number of surgeries reduced
  • Minimum trauma to the body without causing collateral damage
  • Physicians can evaluate the condition of tissue in very early stage cancer and pre-cancerous lesions

2) Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): Guelph-based Pharos devised a minimally invasive treatment for killing bacteria that leads to periodontal disease. Results:

  • Treatment time is reduced
  • Incidence of re-infection is reduced

The partnership has also helped to attract foreign health research investment that is attracted to Ontario because of the depth and accessibility of world class research available in Ontario. One example is the French pharmaceutical company Negma which has invested $1 million into the province and has initiated preclinical studies for a minimally invasive prostate cancer treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital using light activated drugs.

"We are all working toward the same goals - advancing our understanding and treatment of diseases and providing better care for Ontario patients," said Dr. Bell. "Through tools that provide us with earlier detection of disease and minimally invasive technologies, we are making tremendous progress on these goals."

"OCE is proud of the role we are playing assisting Ontario's research hospitals, including the University Health Network, develop groundbreaking medical discoveries," said Mark Romoff, President and CEO of the Ontario Centres of Excellence. "Dr. Bell presides over a research colossus which demonstrates daily the importance of innovation on both the economic and social health of Ontario. The results include greater containment of health care costs, shorter patient wait times and better care for all Ontarians."

The event, held in partnership with the Toronto Board of Trade, is the second in a series on innovation made-in Ontario emerging technology organized by Ontario Centres of Excellence.

About the Ontario Centres of Excellence

OCE Inc. is a leading advocate and supporter of innovation in Ontario, helping to grow the province's economy and enhance its competitive position. We do this by supporting industrially relevant research, the commercialization of leading edge industry and academic collaborations, and the development and deployment of the next generation of talent in specific technologies across a range of market sectors. These sectors include communications and information technology, earth and environmental technologies, energy, materials and manufacturing and photonics. We have been doing this for 20 years. For more information, please visit our website at

About the Toronto Board of Trade

The Toronto Board of Trade is the champion of a competitive and vibrant Toronto with a mandate to serve, represent and unite the city's business community. Founded in 1845, Canada's largest chamber of commerce operates at four locations across Toronto. Further information about Board events, policies, advocacy and products is available on its website at Commentary from Board executives can be found on the Board Blog at

About the University Health Network

University Health Network is a major landmark in Canada's healthcare system, and a teaching partner of the University of Toronto. Building on the strengths and reputation of each of our three remarkable hospitals, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital, UHN brings together the innovation, talent and resources needed to achieve global impact on the health care scene and provide exemplary patient care.

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