Summer by Design participants
Summer by Design 2023 participants. (Photo by Neil Ta)

Medicine by Design’s Summer by Design, an eight-day intensive program at the University of Toronto (U of T), wrapped up last week. Participants — nearly 30 Canadian and international PhD students and post-doctoral fellows — joined sessions that provided an in-depth look at commercializing science, the regenerative medicine ecosystem in Canada, communications and marketing and many other aspects of the business of regenerative medicine.

Medicine by Design runs the program along with its lead partner CCRM. Other partners include Rotman School of Management at U of T and the Stem Cell Network.

Here’s a list of the 10 defining highlights from this year’s Summer by Design.

Meeting peers from around the world

Summer by Design attracts participants from around the world. Along with learning from their peers’ unique global perspectives, participants built professional networks that could become future scientific or entrepreneurial collaborations.

Participants came from a range of research areas including stem cell biology, biomedical engineering, RNA technology, computational biology and genomics.

In addition to local trainees from U of T and its affiliated hospitals, international trainees from institutions including Cornell University, University of York (U.K.), Technical University of Munich and Lund University joined the program.

A portion of the participants were also from Canadian institutions outside of Toronto including University of British Columbia, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Western University.

SbD participants
SbD participants
SbD participants

Photos of Summer by Design participants by Neil Ta.

Working through the commercialization “road map”

Program partner CCRM led the content design that drove a multi-day program. A ‘road map’ wove all modules together and charted the stages of commercialization. This was an essential tool for participants, as it provided a guide for how everything they were learning fit into the larger picture of the business of regenerative medicine.


Hearing from top experts in Canada’s regenerative medicine community

The regenerative medicine ecosystem in Canada is growing and Toronto is one important innovation hub. A group of Toronto and Canada’s foremost experts in the field provided their insight and knowledge in a range of areas.

Regenerative Medicine Industry and Commercialization Overview
Robin Quirk, VP Tech Sourcing & Venture Development, CCRM
Glenn MacLean, Director Tech & Venture Development, CCRM
Vishan Sivagnanam, Manager Commercialization & Venture Development, CCRM

Intellectual Property
Karen Townsend, Counsel, Torys LLP
Marilee Krinsky, Senior Commercialization Manager, University of Toronto

Technology Strategy
Alberto Galasso, Professor, Rotman School of Management

Regulatory Affairs & Clinical Translation; Economic Reimbursement and Technology Adoption
Patrick Bedford, Managing Director, weCANreg
Sang Mi Lee, Director, MORSE Consulting Inc.
Jaclyn Beca, Director, MORSE Consulting Inc.

Life Sciences Capital Markets / Early-stage Diligence and Fundraising
Erik Kragegaard, Senior Associate, CCRM Enterprises

Nitin Mehta, Professor, Rotman School of Management

Biomanufacturing in Regenerative Medicine
Janet Rothberg, Director of Advance, CCRM

SbD participants
Alberto Galasso, professor, Rotman School of Management
SbD participants
Sang Mi Lee, director, MORSE Consulting Inc.

Photos by Medicine by Design staff.

Entrepreneurship advice from experts in Canada’s regenerative medicine innovation ecosystem

An engaging panel discussion featuring leaders from some of Canada’s largest accelerators, incubators and venture capital companies provided advice on entrepreneurship and career development. The panel emphasized themes like the importance of working with ecosystem partners to accelerate venture creation and finding the right team with a diverse set of expertise. The panel featured Amie Phinney, senior director, adMare Bioinnovations; Sonia Sennik, executive director, Creative Destruction Lab; Suman Rao, associate, Lumira Ventures; and Amol Deshpande, senior director, Health Sciences, MaRS Discovery District.


Panel photos by Neil Ta. Left to right: Medicine by Design’s Nicole Kuchinsky (moderator), Amie Phinney, Suman Rao, Amol Deshpande and Sonia Sennik.

Hearing from academics about their journey in commercialization

Academics and former trainees shared their experiences with founding companies touching on themes like how they balanced their research careers with entrepreneurship and how they spun research and technologies they were working on in the lab into startups.

Speakers included Keith Pardee, an associate professor at U of T who was involved in launching companies LSK, Liberum, En Carta Diagnostics and Glusyn Diagnostics ; Nabanita Nawar, who completed her PhD at U of T and is a co-founder & CEO of HDAX Therapeutics; Michael Laflamme, senior scientist, McEwen Stem Cell Institute, a cardiac pathologist who is a scientific co-founder of BlueRock Therapeutics; Mike Cooke, who has a PhD from U of T and is a co-founder and CEO of AmacaThera and Emily McGaugh, who has a PhD from U of T and is now a JD Candidate at University of Ottawa, and who was involved in the launch of Notch Therapeutics.

SbD participants
Keith Pardee
SbD participants
Emily McGaugh

Photos by Medicine by Design staff.

Small group and one-on-one communication coaching

Summer by Design participants are doing amazing science: developing cell therapies for diabetes, working on heart regeneration, finding treatments for neurodegeneration and much more. Thanks to the coaches at Talk Boutique, a full-service speaker representation and coaching company, participants were given sessions where they learned how to effectively communicate the amazing work they’re doing.

Scientific Storytelling Competition

The skills the participants learned in the communication coaching sessions were put to the test in the Scientific Storytelling Competition where participants delivered a three-minute pitch about their research in front of their peers and judges from Talk Boutique, Medicine by Design, CCRM, Rotman School of Management and Stem Cell Network. By using compelling narratives, all participants met the task of distilling complex research into accessible stories for a wide audience.

Storytelling winners
Talk Boutique's Andrea Sampson (left) with the three participants with top scores at the Scientific Storytelling Competition. (Photo by Medicine by Design staff.)

Getting competitive in the scavenger hunt

In between modules, trainees had almost two weeks to explore Toronto and have fun. The teams embraced the challenge of gathering points by visiting attractions, riding the TTC, exploring Toronto neighbourhoods or participating in various activities. Congratulations to the winning team, who left only a few challenges undone.

SbD participants
SbD participants
SbD participants
SbD participants

Scavenger hunt photos by Summer by Design participants.

Unique opportunities offered by our partners

In addition to the talks and workshops throughout Summer by Design, program partners offered some unique opportunities to the participants. Rotman School of Management offered one-on-one meetings with alumni and CCRM gave tours of their state-of-the-art lab facilities.

Particpants at the CCRM lab (Photo provided by Mina Vaez.)

Getting to know each other at Pub night

On the first night of Summer by Design, CCRM hosted a pub night for all of the attendees where they enjoyed food and drinks and got to know each other with a game of ice breaker bingo.

SbD participants
SbD participants

Summer by Design participants at pub night (Photos provided by CCRM).