Young university researcher placed with top Toronto biotech company to improve success rates for in-vitro fertility treatments

Four-month internship project with Marksman Cellject latest example of Mitacs Accelerate program’s contribution to Ontario’s knowledge-based companies

Toronto, ON - December 16, 2009: Canadian couples facing infertility challenges are being offered more hope through a unique Mitacs Accelerate Ontario internship project which seeks to increase in-vitro fertility treatment success rates and minimize the effects of technician inconsistency.

An intern from the University of Toronto has been assigned to Toronto-based Marksman Cellject through the Mitacs Accelerate program, an initiative funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities of the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada. Mitacs Accelerate is a national internship program that connects Ontario industry with academia in order to help grow our knowledge economy and create new jobs.
 
Using micro-devices, computer vision algorithms and micro-robotic control techniques, the Mitacs Accelerate intern will work with Marksman Cellject to develop a technology to rapidly immobilize human egg cells, capture swimming sperm and perform automated injection of the sperm into the egg cells with a high-degree of accuracy and minimal human intervention.
 
The Mitacs Accelerate program was launched in Ontario in June of this year, thanks to a $16.89 million investment from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Under the program, graduate student researchers spend a minimum of 50 per cent of their time over a four month-period at a company, undertaking research on a problem jointly identified by the intern, business, a supervising professor and Mitacs. The balance of the students’ time is spent at the university, developing new tools, technologies or methods to address the company’s challenge. The cost of an internship is shared by the partner company and the Mitacs Accelerate program through the support of the Ontario Government and the federal government.
 
Since the program was launched earlier this year, over 75 internships have been funded across Ontario with companies including IBM, ENVIRON (EC) Canada, MGS Horticultural, Cistel Technology, HATCH Ltd, Philip Beesley Architects and Dainty Foods.
 
“This Accelerate internship is a great example of how university-based researchers can add tremendous value to Ontario industry and Canadian society,” said Dr. Arvind Gupta, Scientific Director of Mitacs. “Even in these tough economic times, it makes good business senses to develop the products of tomorrow by making small investments in R&D today.”
 
Dr. Yu Sun, President of Marksman Cellject, said that he was excited to have the opportunity of pushing his company’s research results to the clinical environment and make a difference to patients, and that he was particularly happy that an Accelerate intern would share this rewarding opportunity.
 
"The Marksman system is really exciting and I believe it will be a major addition to assisted reproductive technology. Our clinic will be working closely with Marksman to validate its injection system in the spring," said Dr. Bob Casper, Medical Director, Toronto Centre for Advanced Reproductive Technology. “If the studies are positive, we look forward to being the first to implement this technology clinically.”
 
“By bringing together talented university-based researchers and innovative businesses, we can help turn exciting new ideas into products and services that will strengthen our economy and benefit all Ontarians,” said Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities John Milloy.
 
About Mitacs Accelerate 
For more information about the Mitacs Accelerate program m in Ontario, visit www.mitacs.ca.
 
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Media Contacts
 

Heather Young
Director, Communications 
Mitacs
hyoung@mitacs.ca
604-818-0020

Chelsea Dibble
Senior Communications Specialist  
Mitacs
cdibble@mitacs.ca
604-827-3094