Inventor of the year award

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Sponsored by Commercialization at UHN since 2003 and awarded annually, the Inventor of the Year Award (IOTY) recognizes an individual or team whose invention has made a substantial and noteworthy commercialization contribution leading to a healthier world.

Thanks to our world-class researchers, scientists and clinicians, UHN is Canada’s leading medical research hospital and is included within the top 10 North American research hospitals in commercialization (Source: AUTM Licensing Survey).

Award Information

Award Objectives

  • Recognize outstanding research inventiveness and commercialization potential
  • Promote an entrepreneurial culture at UHN
  • Highlight the importance of commercialization at UHN in contributing to a healthier world
  • Working in partnership with Commercialization at UHN, recognize high commercialization activity/potential


  • Must currently work at UHN.
  • Must have created and/or advanced a substantial innovation while working at UHN, but not necessarily only in the past year.
  • The invention must include development of UHN intellectual property (IP) that is either patented, patentable, protected by copyright or can be or has been commercialized by industry through formal IP agreements.
  • The invention should demonstrate high commercial impact or commercialization potential



  • Creativity
  • Degree of advancement over the current state of science/technology

Commercialization potential of inventions

  • Market suitability
  • Commercial potential

Commercialization ability, efforts and achievements of the Nominee

  • Ability to bridge the gap between research and development
  • Diligence in assisting with IP protection and commercialization
  • Number of patents filed/licensed
  • Commercial milestones achieved
  • Financial commercial success

Patient Impact/Social Benefit  

  • Proven or potential impact on patient quality of life and care
  • Impact on social and economic development


  • UHN Commercialization will review and short-list all submissions for commercial applicability and criteria presented above, with final decision provided by the EVPSR

Featured Winners


Drs. Heather Ross and Joseph A. Cafazzo Inventor of the Year 2022

Drs. Heather Ross and Joseph A. Cafazzo

Drs. Heather Ross and Joseph Cafazzo are the winners of UHN's 19th annual Inventor of the Year Award.

The researchers are being recognized for their discovery leading to the commercialization of the Medly platform, a fit-in-your pocket companion for heart care powered by software and artificial intelligence developed at UHN.

Medly is also the basis of UHN new venture Medly Therapeutics, poised to bring heart care benefits to patients around the world.

Dr. Heather Ross is the Division Head of Cardiology at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC), the Scientific Lead for the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research at PMCC, the Loretta A. Rogers Chair in Heart Function and the Pfizer Chair in Cardiovascular Research. Dr. Joseph Cafazzo is the Executive Director, Biomedical Engineering, the Centre for Digital Therapeutics, and Healthcare Human Factors (HHF) at UHN, and is the Wolfond Chair in Digital Health.

"Their pioneering digital health innovations are changing the face of heart health for patients nationwide," says Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President of Science and Research at UHN. "Commercialization of the Medly platform is an example of translating world-class research into precision medicine – for the benefit of cardiac patients, as well as for individuals living other chronic diseases."

Sponsored by Commercialization at UHN, the Inventor of the Year Award recognizes an individual or team whose invention has made a substantial and noteworthy commercialization contribution leading to A Healthier World.

Drs. Ross and Cafazzo worked closely with Commercialization at UHN to pivot the Medly technology into a foundational platform for UHN spinoff Medly Therapeutics. The process included the selection of a seasoned entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) to lead company formation efforts. Commercialization at UHN continues to steward ongoing augmentations to Medly's core technology.

The journey leading to the development and commercialization of Medly would not have been possible without important contributions from members of TeamUHN and the University of Toronto, including Emily Seto, Shumit Saha, Bo Wang, Michael McDonald, Amika Shah, Kenneth R Chapman, Philip Segal, as well as UHN's Centre for Digital Therapeutics team, the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, PMCC and HHF. Drs. Ross and Cafazzo are also grateful for the vast philanthropic support from donors to UHN Foundation who have enabled the development of the Medly platform.

Medly has proven clinically effective at UHN and other sites

According to Dr. Ross, nearly one million Canadians are living with heart failure (HF) and one-in-five people over the age of 40 will experience HF. Challenges in treating HF include timing patient treatment with HF episodes, a lack of real-time, actionable patient data and limited patient involvement along the journey to better health.

To counteract these challenges, Drs. Ross and Cafazzo devised Medly to be an innovative digital self-management solution with 24/7 monitoring technology, making it accessible and easy to use for patients wherever they might be.

The Medly technology has proven to be effective clinically at UHN and other sites, supporting more than 800 patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) at the PMCC. It has also led to a 50 per cent reduction in HF-related hospitalizations and a 24 per cent reduction in other hospitalizations, with patients reporting greater self-management support, confidence and peace of mind, and a better relationship with their care team.

"In delivering health care today, we are often still overly focused on treating patients once they become acutely ill and end up in hospital," says Dr. Ross. "Leveraging the incredible power of big data, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, Medly provides a more proactive, scalable and affordable solution to manage the epidemic of heart failure – and research is continually ongoing to enhance it.

"Working with the team at Commercialization at UHN to scale Medly nationally and beyond will allow this technology to reach more patients than ever before."

Dr. Cafazzo says, "innovative digital therapeutic solutions like Medly give patients an incredibly advanced capacity to manage their care at home, right at their fingertips, while still staying connected to their healthcare team.

"By detecting changes in a patient's health status, Medly also allows care providers to intervene earlier, before the patient needs to be re-hospitalized for a serious complication such as heart failure, which can be an immense added comfort to patients living with complex chronic conditions," Dr. Cafazzo adds.

Commercialization at UHN is thrilled to recognize the world-class science, collaboration and commercialization of this groundbreaking digital health technology. It is exciting to see another UHN and Toronto ecosystem technology making bold strides towards improving health and reaching more patients in need.

Congratulations Drs. Ross and Cafazzo and teams!

About Medly

How it works

Based on core technology invented at UHN, Medly includes an application that can be used on hand-held devices such as smart phones, home medical devices and wearables to help individuals self-manage heart disease. Every day, patients enter key details such as their weight, blood pressure and heart rate and answer questions about their symptoms. Using a sophisticated, expert system and machine learning algorithms, Medly assesses health risks in real-time and notifies the patient's care team of any signs of deteriorating health. The app then triggers alerts to the health care team, which are presented alongside the patient's list of medications, lab results, graphs and contact information. Medly enables care providers to intervene proactively, before the patient would otherwise recognize a need to visit a clinic or hospital. The team is now working to incorporate additional features into the Medly platform, including an automated solution to optimize medication dosages based on data from patient visits.

What's next?

Medly's technology is currently being channeled into Medly Therapeutics, a new venture partnership between Commercialization at UHN and Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (TIAP), scaling the technology for maximum patient impact.

For more information about the Medly platform, visit:

For more information, including past winners of the Inventor of the Year Award, please visit:

With generous support from many donors to UHN Foundation, including the Rogers Foundation, the Peter and Melanie Munk Charitable Foundation, and the Greg and Henry Wolfond families, clinical care through Medly continues to be available to patients at UHN and beyond. Ongoing philanthropic support and industry partnerships create a ripe setting to explore enhancements such as cutting-edge wearables, novel sensor-based technologies and artificial intelligence enabled algorithms, all with the goal of creating new systems of care for more patients.

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Princess Margaret Senior Scientists named joint UHN Inventor of the Year

Daniel De Carvalho & Scott Bratman

Commercialization at UHN is thrilled to recognize Princess Margaret Senior Scientists Drs. Daniel De Carvalho and Scott Bratman as the joint winners of UHN's 18th annual Inventor of the Year Award.

They received the award for their work on advancing a specialized form of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) technology, known as cfMeDIP-seq. cfMeDIP-seq is an ultra sensitive cell-free DNA methylation pattern detection technology being developed to spot different types of cancers via liquid biopsy. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), CfMeDIP-seq is now transforming the landscape of cancer diagnosis and disease management.

These advances in cfMeDIP-seq technology would also not have been possible without important contributions from TeamUHN, including Dr. Michael Hoffman and the other members of the De Carvalho, Bratman, and Hoffman laboratories.

The foundational discoveries were also enabled through close collaboration with numerous other investigators at UHN, including Drs. Philippe Bedard, John de Almeida, Neil Fleshner, Steven Gallinger, David Goldstein, Natasha Leighl, Fei-Fei Liu, Geoffrey Liu, Mark Minden, Catherine O'Brien, Trevor Pugh, Lillian Siu, Anna Spreafico, John Waldron, Ilan Weinreb, Wei Xu, and Gelareh Zadeh.

With extensive support from Commercialization at UHN, Drs. De Carvalho and Bratman have recently co-founded the precision medicine UHN start-up Adela to realize the full potential of cfMeDIP-seq so that it can be used to improve the lives of patients. Supported by a US$60 million financing round in the spring of 2021, Adela is now developing a platform capable identifying multiple types of cancers and other conditions through a single blood test. ​In addition to its U.S.-based offices, Adela established operations at the Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower in close proximity to UHN resources and facilities, which will enable ongoing cross-collaboration to nurture further growth in the local biotech economy.

Drs. De Carvalho and Bratman were quick to recognize the commercial potential of the cfMeDIP-seq platform as a disruptive technology in the precision medicine area and set out to develop it for clinical application. They have worked with the team at Commercialization at UHN to advance it towards patient care, and both now serve in leadership roles at Adela.

Building on multiple high-impact publications in Nature, Nature Medicine and most recently, Clinical Cancer Research, Adela's Series A financing round is one of the biggest in Canadian biotech history.

"The immense potential of our core technology has already been demonstrated across 10 different cancer types," says Dr. De Carvalho. "We took advantage of the fact that there are a large number of characteristic DNA methylation markers in the blood of cancer patients. Using this knowledge, combined with machine learning, we developed a robust and cost-efficient approach to profile or 'read' DNA methylation in this circulating DNA."

"Adela's technology has the potential to revolutionize how we detect and diagnose disease," says Dr. Bratman. "With Adela, we expect that from a blood draw, doctors will be able to diagnose cancer and identify patients who are at a higher risk of relapse and might benefit from more aggressive treatment.

"We can also monitor treatment response – all with just a blood test and no need for surgical extraction of cancer tissue for biopsy," he says. "These applications demonstrate the power of the methylation-based platform used in Adela across a wide range of clinical settings."

"We are thrilled to recognize the world-class science, collaboration and commercialization of this ground-breaking liquid biopsy technology," says Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President, Science and Research at UHN. "It is exciting to see another UHN and Toronto ecosystem technology making bold strides towards improving health by including a broader spectrum of patients in need."

About the technology

The DNA methylome is a rich source of information about human disease. Adela's genome-wide methylation enrichment technology uniquely captures information efficiently from the entire methylome and distinguishes the most-highly informative (i.e., "methylated") regions of the genome from non-informative regions and preferentially targets them for sequencing. In addition, the CfMeDIP-seq technology platform boasts significant efficiency in that it does not require bisulfite conversion, which is a chemical treatment that is cost intensive and causes loss of valuable genomic material and information.

About the UHN Inventor of the Year Award

Proudly sponsored by Commercialization at UHN, the UHN Inventor of the Year Award recognizes an inventor or team who has made a substantial and noteworthy contribution to developing healthcare innovations with high commercialization potential.

Every day, new discoveries are made across the UHN campus that will impact the lives of Canadians, and the global community. UHN is committed to supporting promising new technologies for commercialization by moving these discoveries through the development pipeline and the annual UHN Inventor of the Year Award recognizes leading excellence in this area.

For more information, please visit: Commercialization at UHN

Past UHN Inventor of the Year Winners include:

  • Dr. Naoto Hirano (2020) for his work in developing the TCR-HLA multimer staining technique, which greatly expands how immunotherapy targets cancer
  • Drs. Shaf Keshavjee and Marcelo Cypel (2019) for their pioneering work in developing the Toronto Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion (EVLP) system
  • Drs. Gordon Keller and Michael Laflamme (2018) for their research and study of stem cells and inventiveness in the field of regenerative medicine
  • Dr. Christopher Paige (2017) for his work in immune-oncology and in developing a therapeutic approach that uses a patient's own immune system to fight cancer
  • Drs. Hisham Alshaer, T. Douglas Bradley and Geoff Fernie (2016) for developing BresoDx®, a device that can be used to diagnose sleep apnea at home
  • Dr. Milos Popovic (2015) for his ground-breaking neurorehabilitation research, which led to the creation of a new product called MyndMove™
  • Dr. Tak Mak and The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research Therapeutics Group (2013) for the team's creation and development of a first-in-class cancer therapeutic (CFI-400945), and the further achievement of a successful IND and associated launch of a clinical trial
  • Dr. Ralph DaCosta (2014) for his development of a hand-held fluorescence imaging device for real-time wound care monitoring and assessment, and its ongoing successful commercialization through the creation of the company MolecuLight Inc.
  • Dr. Thomas Purdie (2013) for his role in developing software that has significantly improved the way cancer radiation therapy is delivered
  • Dr. Aaron Schimmer (2012) for pioneering work in the area of re-positioning anti-infective drugs for the treatment of leukemia
  • Dr. Gang Zheng (2011) for his work in the development of novel nanoparticle formulations, which have enabled new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of cancer
  • Drs. Mohammad Islam and Michael Sharpe (2010) for their inventions, which make radiation therapy safer, more effective and more efficient
  • Drs. Ming-Sound Tsao, Frances A. Shepherd, and Igor Jurisica (2009) for developing groundbreaking prognostic genomic analysis for early stage non-small-cell lung cancer
  • Dr. David Jaffray (2008) for his creativity in applying cutting-edge physics and engineering to the integration of imaging and radiation therapy in the cancer clinic
  • Dr. Andres Lozano (2007) for his ingenuity in using deep brain stimulation—a technology that selectively modifies neurotransmission activity-- to treat depression, anxiety, cognitive disorders and Parkinson's disease
  • Dr. Joe Fisher (2006) for his invention of many exciting medical technologies including a non-invasive system to measure heart health, a portable device that allows the rapid treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning and an oxygen delivery mask that can help prevent spread of respiratory diseases such as SARS or Avian Influenza in hospitals
  • Dr. Dan Drucker (2005) for inventions targeted towards treating patients with diabetes, short bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease. A number of these products have already reached Phase II or III clinical trials, or are awaiting FDA approval
  • Dr. Kevin Kain (2004) for his discovery of new medications for the treatment of malaria, including a treatment for the most severe and frequently fatal form of the disease

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Past Winners