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St. Michael's Hospital LogoFor principal investigators, a key component in taking their research ideas from the bench to the market is knowing what commercialization resources exist and when to use them.

Through the MaRS Innovation’s Technology Transfer & Scouting division (MITTS), manager Sahail Shariff is connecting with principal investigators (PIs) at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto on the front-line to better understand and advance their research.

Of the 180 PIs at the hospital, the majority are clinician scientists who spend a portion of their time caring for patients.

In collaboration with Samar Saneinejad, project director in the Office of the Vice-President, Research at St. Michael’s, Shariff established a research commercialization committee with regular monthly meetings to stay connected to PIs and their research status. He’s also taken note of the time constraints facing clinician scientists, making a point to provide them with more one-on-one time.

Sahail Shariff
MaRS Innovation’s Sahail Shariff walks the halls at St. Michael’s Hospital to provide better commercialization resources to its researchers.

Invention disclosures from researchers at St. Michael’s have increased by almost 50 percent since October 2013, when Shariff joined MaRS Innovation. He has played a key role in this success and has also helped the hospital to acquire five commercialization-related funding applications and assisted in 12 interactions between PIs and industry members.

“Walking the halls has been really valuable for investigators who have great ideas and have spent a lot of time on their research and inventions, but don’t have excess time to devote to finding the right way to develop it further,” says Shariff.

Being on-site gives researchers the chance to tell Shariff about what they’re doing when it’s convenient for them. He’s then able to provide detailed information on the commercialization process and the best resources available for a particular PI or research project, whether it be through patent protection, industry partnerships or funding.

Walking the halls also gives Shariff the chance to better understand the research himself by asking immediate questions.

“I’m amazed by the applied nature of research at St. Michael’s, and being on the ground with researchers and inventors on a regular basis is helping us provide the resources they need to bring their important research towards commercialization,” he says.

One of MI’s 15 member institutions, St. Michael’s is one of the best applied science teaching hospitals in the country, producing valuable applied research, with 180 principal investigators (PIs) working on novel ideas in areas of heart and vascular care, trauma and neurosurgery, diabetes comprehensive care and critical care.

Click here to learn more about St. Michael’s research.

By Kailee Travis, writer and communications assistant.

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