Joule announces 2020 Innovation grant recipients

Ottawa – January 14, 2021 – Joule, a Canadian Medical Association (CMA) subsidiary, today announced the 12 recipients of its 2020 Innovation grant program. The physicians and medical learners from across the country will share $500,000 in funding to develop or expand their respective projects.

Access to care:

  • Dr. Alika Lafontaine – An anesthesiologist in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Dr. Lafontaine implemented SafeSpace Networks, an anonymous reporting and learning platform that empowers marginalized patients to navigate health systems, supported by other patients, providers and stakeholders. The $100,000 grant will support SafeSpace’s development and will be used to grow its social network of users and approved stakeholders.
  • Dr. Gregory Schmidt – A recent graduate in internal medicine in Vancouver, Dr. Schmidt created Bodo Health, a software startup and virtual clinic that offers in-home speech, language and voice services. The $50,000 grant will allow Bodo Health to build tools for virtual post-stroke and neuro-rehab speech services.

Physician health and wellness:

  • Dr. Jordan Vollrath – A full-time locum family physician in Alberta, Dr. Vollrath developed Cherry Health, a smartphone app that functions as a centralized database to link physicians and clinics together to solve locum-matching problems. The $100,000 grant will support Cherry Health’s profile among physicians and support the implementation of additional user functionality.
  • Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia – A family physician in Kitchener-Waterloo and a leader in the field of eHealth, Dr. Alarakhia created “Bernie”, an automated solution to help physicians and their staff reduce the number of manual tasks related to clinical information management they have to perform. The $50,000 grant will support the development to upgrade the solution to effectively manage and follow-up on lab test results.

Health care solutions:

  • Tingting Yan – A medical student at the University of Toronto, Ms. Yan co-founded, an international dashboard that synthesizes evidence from serological (antibody) testing to map disease spread beyond case counts. The $50,000 grant will allow the SeroTracker team to develop novel artificial intelligence technology to more quickly identify, clean, aggregate and analyze data.
  • Dr. Jennifer Hensel – A psychiatrist at the Health Sciences Centre and Crisis Response Centre in Winnipeg, Dr. Hensel and her team developed a virtual mental health ward where admitted patients have access to assessment and support from their homes. The $30,000 grant will help develop the virtual model and discover its potential to scale across Canada and beyond.

Sustainable health care:

  • Dr. Melissa Lem – A Vancouver-based family physician and clinical assistant professor at UBC, Dr. Lem created PaRx, Canada’s first national, evidence-based nature prescription program. The app pairs patients with a nature experience with the aim of reducing their stress, anxiety and depression. The $50,000 grant will allow Dr. Lem to scale PaRx across Canada, build the web application, develop and implement a climate points system and create a CPD-accredited online module.
  • Dr. Simon Berthelot – An emergency medicine specialist and researcher at the pediatric academic hospital of the CHU de Québec-Université Laval, Dr. Berthelot has created Med-LCA, an app to help reduce the pollution generated by hospitals by teaching them how to complete their own life cycle assessments (LCAs) – analyses of the ecological footprint of each health care activity. The $30,000 grant will support the completion of the LCAs necessary to establish a representative sample of the care activities performed in our health care system.

Emerging physician innovators:

  • Brandon Spink – A second-year medical student at the University of Saskatchewan who created the Nexagon, a protective neck brace designed to prevent concussions by focusing on one of the key causes — whiplash injuries, which can result in a rapid rotation of the head and neck. The $10,000 grant will be used to support the development and manufacturing of the Nexagon.
  • Stuti Tanya – A second-year medical student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Ms. Tanya co-created Rhythm, an ophthalmic triage and referral software, to help primary care providers arrive at a more accurate diagnosis for referral purposes and to more accurately estimate the urgency of referrals. The $10,000 grant will support the development of the next phases of Rhythm.
  • Dr. Jovi Wong - An ophthalmology resident at the University of Toronto, Dr. Wong​​ created Retinographer, an inexpensive smartphone-based fundoscope that can take an image of the back surface of the eye and detect major retinal diseases, allowing front-line workers to screen patients in their own communities before sending to a specialist. The $10,000 grant will enable Dr. Wong and her team to build a prototype and collect a data set of smartphone fundus images to develop the artificial intelligence model.
  • Dr. Abhiram Cherukupalli – A family medicine resident at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Cherukupalli has created Tractus Medical, a device that can be operated by a single physician and offer consistent fixed traction throughout the entire treatment and casting process of wrist fractures. The $10,000 grant will help him and his team further develop Tractus into a marketable device.

Since 2016, the Joule Innovation grant program has supported physician-led innovation for CMA members. 2020 marks the fifth and final year the innovation grants will be offered. Moving forward, all granting programs in support of the profession, the health care system and communities will be undertaken through the CMA Foundation, the hub for CMA’s strategic granting.