BlueDot, a Canadian company that helps decision-makers prepare for and response to infectious disease outbreaks, was profiled in the Toronto Star for their work in tracking the Zika virus. The…
Toronto-based commercial arm of BioDiaspora research program tracks global spread of infectious diseases in real-time; fourth MI company to reach Series A
TORONTO (Dec. 2, 2014) — BlueDot, a Toronto-based social benefit corporation founded by Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician and scientist, tracks and predicts the global spread of infectious diseases.
Spun off from St. Michael’s Hospital in partnership with MaRS Innovation (and formerly known as BioDiaspora Inc.), BlueDot, has secured a Series A venture capital funding from Horizons Ventures. Funded by Sir Li Ka-shing, Horizons invests in what they call “game-changing disruptive tech,” and has a proven track record in making early-stage investments (i.e., Facebook, Skype, Waze, Siri and Spotify).
TechVibes and MedCity News covered BlueDot’s Series A announcement, as did PE Hub and BetaKit. Read the BlueDot press release here.
The company is the fourth in MaRS Innovation’s portfolio to reach Series A. MaRS Innovation provided $400,000 in seed funding and worked with BlueDot and St. Michael’s to incorporate the company and develop its initial business strategy, intellectual property protection strategy and go-to-market plan. The Ontario Centres of Excellence also provided $140,000 in commercialization grants that helped BlueDot get off the ground.
BlueDot is the commercial arm of Dr. Khan’s academic research program called BioDiaspora, which was developed at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s. BioDiaspora models how infectious diseases can spread and impact populations globally by analyzing big data such as the annual movements of more than 3 billion travelers on commercial flights; human, animal and insect population data; climate data from satellites; and news reports of disease outbreaks. The program was inspired by the Toronto’s SARS crisis in 2003 and its capabilities scientifically validated in prestigious academic journals such as the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.
During its development, BlueDot’s platform technology was used by numerous international agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada to evaluate emerging infectious disease threats, including those during global mass gatherings such as the Olympics and the hajj.
Dr. Kamran Khan, founder of BioDiapsora, was cited in a New York Times‘ Bits article on the Big Data solutions evolving to track the global spread of disease: “In New Tools to Combat Epidemics, the Key is Context.”
Amy O’Leary‘s article appeared as part of a special blog/supplement on June 19, 2013 (Big Data 2013).
Here’s an excerpt (links and emphasis ours):
One of the doctors in the field who can benefit from these types of insights is Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
Dr. Khan, who said he had a “bad habit of being around emerging diseases,” has worked on the front lines of the 1999 West Nile virus outbreak and the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. But the event that hit closest to home was when his own hospital was affected by a deadly outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which hit Toronto in 2003.
Toronto Star covers Khan’s new WHO paper on H1N1 outbreak
Dr. Kamran Khan, founder of BioDiaspora and an infectious disease physician and scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital, is among the experts studying the emergence of the H7N9 bird flu outbreak in China and the new coronavirus in the Middle East and Europe.
Global News National also covered this story on April 11, 2013. Watch Beatrice Politi and Carmen Chai‘s report, “Canadian scientists pioneer new formula in airport disease screening,” on the Global website.
The Toronto Star featured Khan’s research and BioDiaspora following the publication of his new paper in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization which assessed the impact of airport screenings in containing the 2009 H1N1 outbreak in Mexico.
Khan’s findings were covered in “Airport disease screening rarely worthwhile, Toronto study says,” by Helen Branswell.
Dr. Kamran Khan, founder of BioDiaspora and an infectious disease physician and scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital, is among the experts studying the emergence of the H7N9 bird flu outbreak in China.
Here’s an excerpt:
“This isn’t necessarily an event that poses a significant risk to Canada, at least based on all the current knowledge,” said Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease specialist at St. Michael’s Hospital and founder of BioDiaspora, a program that predicts the potential spread of outbreaks. “Even if a case were to find its way into Canada, the likelihood of it spreading locally is quite low.”
BioDiaspora collects data on everything from air travel and weather to global distribution of disease-carrying insects and uses this data to forecast the potential spread of new diseases.
It has already performed a risk analysis of H7N9 for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which contacted Khan last Tuesday for help.
Health risk to Canadians is currently low
Carolyn Brown interviewed Khan for a recent CMAJ article on the viral outbreak, “New coronavirus with ‘pandemic potential’ sparks global surveillance efforts.”
India’s Kumbh Mela, an annual mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith, is unlikely to create a disease outbreak that spreads beyond the country’s borders, Dr. Kamran Khan, founder of BioDiaspora, tells Maclean’s Magazine‘s Hannah Hoag in “As millions gather for Kumbh Mela, doctors are watching” (February 11, 2013).
Here’s an excerpt (emphasis ours):
Unlike the hajj or the Olympics, the Kumbh Mela is primarily a domestic event. While flights into Saudi Arabia spike to five times normal during the hajj, “with the Kumbh Mela, it’s marginal,” says Khan, “probably five to 10 per cent at some airports.”
To help stem disease outbreaks that do cross borders, such as the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, Khan developed Bio.Diaspora, an online tool that shows how international travellers can spread infectious diseases. Khan is also working with another group of scientists—along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—to develop a tool called BioMosaic that maps census data, migration patterns and health status to identify countries where international travel may give rise to emerging disease.