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ABOUT

Neurological and mental health disorders can be debilitating conditions that severely limit one’s quality of life and that of their family. Understanding, diagnosing, and treating these conditions are extremely complex challenges that require attention and collaboration across traditional disciplinary divides. Neuro Nexus is a Calgary-based, Spring 2019 multidisciplinary design competition that aims to: Bridge gaps between disciplines, accelerate research, and improve the translation of new ideas to impact.

How it works:

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Projects are invited from neuroscientists, clinicians, and mental health professionals. 120-150 participants, from a multitude of backgrounds, will then come together in teams of 5-7 individuals to work on the projects proposed over a period of 6 weeks. The program culminated in a 72-hour hackathon weekend where access to prototyping resources are provided, and at Demo Day teams showcased their projects to the community at large.



COMPETITION RESULTS

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Trophies were custom-designed and fabricated by Neuro Nexus Gold Sponsor Exergy Solutions!

Best Overall

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RIC Technologies

Project: Providing paramedics with a multi-limbed wireless device to mitigate the adverse effects of strokes.

Team: (from left) Ryan Rosentreter, Noam Anglo, Brittney Herrington, Dr. Aravind Ganesh, Maliyat Noor and Kyle Guild. 

Best-in-Category: Data Analytics

Carelytic

Project: Carelytic allows caregivers a way to simply track changes in behavior, medication, diet and aids in finding potentially clinically useful patterns with those who have dementia.

Team: (front row, from left) Pujarati Roy, Roxanne Howard, Jennifer Trinh. (back row, from left) Prince Okoli, Lisa Poole, Gabrielle Gonzaga. Not shown: Sam Joshva, Angela Li

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Best-in-Category: Clinical Impact

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SPIRAL

Project: SPIRAL is a revolutionary stroke diagnostic tool that significantly reduces the time to diagnose a stroke and unburdens clinicians from using clumsy software currently available on the market.

Best-in-Category: Research Impact

Tic TRACKING

Project: Sensor driven data gathering of tics in people with tourettes to accurately gauge effectiveness of treatment.

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Peoples’ Choice

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EEGaming

Project: Our system aims to give children with severe motor impairment the opportunity to bypass their disability to play video games using only their thoughts.



PHOTOS



PROJECTS

Pediatric neuroimaging can be challenging because children often move during MRI scanning. Even small movements (~1-2mm) can pose challenges for image analysis. Detecting, removing, and/or correcting for this movement is essential for data analysis. While this can be done manually, it is time consuming and poses particular challenges for large studies. There are several automated quality checking programs that have been developed for use in adults, but they do not work well in young children, whose brains are different sizes. Motion typically manifests itself as specific artifacts that appear on the data, and we are interested in automated ways of detecting these patterns, flagging data that is inadequate, and correcting data where possible. An automated, effective way of detecting motion in pediatric images would enable more rapid, reliable analysis of pediatric neuroimaging data.

Pediatric neuroimaging can be challenging because children often move during MRI scanning. Even small movements (~1-2mm) can pose challenges for image analysis. Detecting, removing, and/or correcting for this movement is essential for data analysis. While this can be done manually, it is time consuming and poses particular challenges for large studies. There are several automated quality checking programs that have been developed for use in adults, but they do not work well in young children, whose brains are different sizes. Motion typically manifests itself as specific artifacts that appear on the data, and we are interested in automated ways of detecting these patterns, flagging data that is inadequate, and correcting data where possible. An automated, effective way of detecting motion in pediatric images would enable more rapid, reliable analysis of pediatric neuroimaging data.

Research into brain neuroimaging using MRI has exploded over the past few decades given new advances in MR technologies. Many neuroimaging tools rely on automated algorithms to segment the brain into different tissue types for subsequent processing. This is typically done using “priors”, an existing set of probability maps that inform the segmentation algorithm what probabilities a given voxel has of belonging to a certain tissue type. While this is typically quite successful in normal brains, any sort of anatomical perturbation due to stroke, traumatic brain injury or tumor renders segmentations ineffective and inaccurate. Difficulties are compounded when scans are contaminated with subject movement and have reduced tissue contrast which is common when scanning children. The only solution is to manually segment these areas, a task which is very time-consuming, subjective and requires advanced anatomical knowledge.

Research into brain neuroimaging using MRI has exploded over the past few decades given new advances in MR technologies. Many neuroimaging tools rely on automated algorithms to segment the brain into different tissue types for subsequent processing. This is typically done using “priors”, an existing set of probability maps that inform the segmentation algorithm what probabilities a given voxel has of belonging to a certain tissue type. While this is typically quite successful in normal brains, any sort of anatomical perturbation due to stroke, traumatic brain injury or tumor renders segmentations ineffective and inaccurate. Difficulties are compounded when scans are contaminated with subject movement and have reduced tissue contrast which is common when scanning children. The only solution is to manually segment these areas, a task which is very time-consuming, subjective and requires advanced anatomical knowledge.

Calgary emergency departments are seeing a rise in patients seeking support for mental health and substance use concerns. In 2017-2018 there were 30,000 visits for mental health concerns according to Alberta Health Services. Approximately 77% of people were treated and discharged to home and/or referred to community supports. People generally present to the emergency room because they don’t know where else to go. Each individual has a unique set of medical and psychosocial needs to be address. Once a patient is discharged from the emergency department they may wait up to six months for follow up supports if they do not have the means to pay for privately funded psychological services. Families and friends provide most of the navigational support for individuals dealing with a mental health and substance use challenge. The challenge is to build a digital pathway of service options across AHS, primary care and community organizations for individuals and families to access. Knowledge from their service experience would be captured so that others could benefit. We would design an AI driven Mental health Access Treatment Coordination Hub (MATCH) where services and supports are offered based on the input of pertinent info -age, postal code, current state of distress and other social determinants of health needs. The app would give back real time information to navigate the city and to create and document timeline of their personal experience and recovery journey.

Calgary emergency departments are seeing a rise in patients seeking support for mental health and substance use concerns. In 2017-2018 there were 30,000 visits for mental health concerns according to Alberta Health Services. Approximately 77% of people were treated and discharged to home and/or referred to community supports. People generally present to the emergency room because they don’t know where else to go. Each individual has a unique set of medical and psychosocial needs to be address. Once a patient is discharged from the emergency department they may wait up to six months for follow up supports if they do not have the means to pay for privately funded psychological services. Families and friends provide most of the navigational support for individuals dealing with a mental health and substance use challenge. The challenge is to build a digital pathway of service options across AHS, primary care and community organizations for individuals and families to access. Knowledge from their service experience would be captured so that others could benefit. We would design an AI driven Mental health Access Treatment Coordination Hub (MATCH) where services and supports are offered based on the input of pertinent info -age, postal code, current state of distress and other social determinants of health needs. The app would give back real time information to navigate the city and to create and document timeline of their personal experience and recovery journey.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), a class of brain-machine interface, have gained significant traction in the areas of physical rehabilitation, communication and gaming. BCIs allow for control of effector devices by converting an individual’s neural-electric brain activity into control commands. Such technologies open doors for novel therapeutic and assistive technologies for vulnerable populations, including children with severe physical disability. Gaming is one application where BCI can be used as a control. All games designed for BCI application lack quality and usability. The aim of this project is to develop an interface whereby a standard game controller can be controlled using brain computer interface.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), a class of brain-machine interface, have gained significant traction in the areas of physical rehabilitation, communication and gaming. BCIs allow for control of effector devices by converting an individual’s neural-electric brain activity into control commands. Such technologies open doors for novel therapeutic and assistive technologies for vulnerable populations, including children with severe physical disability. Gaming is one application where BCI can be used as a control. All games designed for BCI application lack quality and usability. The aim of this project is to develop an interface whereby a standard game controller can be controlled using brain computer interface.

EEG activity pattern changes may be indicative of neural impairment following acute cannabis intoxication. A wearable device that detects altered EEG activity and subsequently reports these changes to a mobile applicant has important applications for consumer awareness and law enforcement. This project seeks to design and prototype several aspects of such a wearable device in preparation for app development at a later stage. Specifically, this will involve: computer-aided design and 3D printing of a suitable enclosure with a form factor optimized for electrode placement; circuitry to condition and amplify recorded signals, and finally a control interface to coordinate data acquisition and transmission.

EEG activity pattern changes may be indicative of neural impairment following acute cannabis intoxication. A wearable device that detects altered EEG activity and subsequently reports these changes to a mobile applicant has important applications for consumer awareness and law enforcement. This project seeks to design and prototype several aspects of such a wearable device in preparation for app development at a later stage. Specifically, this will involve: computer-aided design and 3D printing of a suitable enclosure with a form factor optimized for electrode placement; circuitry to condition and amplify recorded signals, and finally a control interface to coordinate data acquisition and transmission.

Medications used to treat common mental health conditions can cause troublesome side effects and as such, identifying people at greatest risk for experiencing these side effects is of utmost importance. We know that a person’s genes can influence how they react to medications. In fact, there are gene-based dosing guidelines for several mental health medications but translating and integrating these guidelines into clinical practice remains a major hurdle. Thus, the challenge is to develop a clinical tool that takes genetic testing results and translates them into an easy to interpret report for use by healthcare providers to guide medication selection and dosing. Addressing this challenge will allow doctors to more easily personalize prescribing to their patients, which will lead to safer and more effective medication use.

Medications used to treat common mental health conditions can cause troublesome side effects and as such, identifying people at greatest risk for experiencing these side effects is of utmost importance. We know that a person’s genes can influence how they react to medications. In fact, there are gene-based dosing guidelines for several mental health medications but translating and integrating these guidelines into clinical practice remains a major hurdle. Thus, the challenge is to develop a clinical tool that takes genetic testing results and translates them into an easy to interpret report for use by healthcare providers to guide medication selection and dosing. Addressing this challenge will allow doctors to more easily personalize prescribing to their patients, which will lead to safer and more effective medication use.

The challenge is to create a mobile app that would allow us to get necessary information to patients, initially focusing on providing access to relevant and current information on available services and programs in the Community (everything from vendors, community programs/mental health, restaurants, hotels). The app would be free to download, but the user will need to give medical information (ie. age, diagnosis, date of diagnosis) and this will ultimately help build a data base for us to understand the demographics of the neuro population. Ideally, the app would provide these resources against a map overlay, incorporate 'peer reviews', and most importantly, suggest resources based on the specific diagnosis. Having the most relevant and pertinent information ultimately empowers patients to direct care, and be an advocate in their own health journey.

The challenge is to create a mobile app that would allow us to get necessary information to patients, initially focusing on providing access to relevant and current information on available services and programs in the Community (everything from vendors, community programs/mental health, restaurants, hotels). The app would be free to download, but the user will need to give medical information (ie. age, diagnosis, date of diagnosis) and this will ultimately help build a data base for us to understand the demographics of the neuro population. Ideally, the app would provide these resources against a map overlay, incorporate 'peer reviews', and most importantly, suggest resources based on the specific diagnosis. Having the most relevant and pertinent information ultimately empowers patients to direct care, and be an advocate in their own health journey.

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a fantastic tool for measuring the structure and function of the brain in awake, behaving humans. But, humans get tired, uncomfortable, itchy and sneezy. All of this motion is kryptonite for the pictures taken by the MRI. Motion is a particularly acute problem for studies in children and clinical populations. What can we do to reduce head motion? We can provide distraction such as movies. We can pad the head with pillows. Some more advanced solutions include things like real-time feedback and thermoplastic masks. The ultimate solution to this problem is one that minimizes head motion without making people feel constrained which can lead to anxiety and claustrophobia. Innovation in this area would mean more accurate research results and reduced need for anesthesia during clinical MRIs. This is a problem looking for an elegant solution.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a fantastic tool for measuring the structure and function of the brain in awake, behaving humans. But, humans get tired, uncomfortable, itchy and sneezy. All of this motion is kryptonite for the pictures taken by the MRI. Motion is a particularly acute problem for studies in children and clinical populations. What can we do to reduce head motion? We can provide distraction such as movies. We can pad the head with pillows. Some more advanced solutions include things like real-time feedback and thermoplastic masks. The ultimate solution to this problem is one that minimizes head motion without making people feel constrained which can lead to anxiety and claustrophobia. Innovation in this area would mean more accurate research results and reduced need for anesthesia during clinical MRIs. This is a problem looking for an elegant solution.

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Families of children with mental illness and/or developmental disabilities face challenges accessing and navigating fragmented disability and mental health service delivery. Limited data on provision of these services exists in Canada, making it difficult for service providers to quantify needs. To address this gap, we have compiled a database of expenditures on and caseloads for supports and services for persons with disabilities and mental health needs in each province from fiscal year 1999/00 to present (where available). This includes services for adults, children/families, income support and tax credits/deductions. This data can be powerful in starting a dialogue to address service provision gaps. Service providers could benefit from findings from the data but often do not have the capacity to perform analysis, therefore data visualization and analysis approaches are needed. Innovative approaches to making this data accessible to community partners and analysis of strategies to improve data quality are needed.

Families of children with mental illness and/or developmental disabilities face challenges accessing and navigating fragmented disability and mental health service delivery. Limited data on provision of these services exists in Canada, making it difficult for service providers to quantify needs. To address this gap, we have compiled a database of expenditures on and caseloads for supports and services for persons with disabilities and mental health needs in each province from fiscal year 1999/00 to present (where available). This includes services for adults, children/families, income support and tax credits/deductions. This data can be powerful in starting a dialogue to address service provision gaps. Service providers could benefit from findings from the data but often do not have the capacity to perform analysis, therefore data visualization and analysis approaches are needed. Innovative approaches to making this data accessible to community partners and analysis of strategies to improve data quality are needed.

SPIRAL is a novel stroke imaging concept that could make stroke diagnosis cheaper, faster, and safer for the patient while providing similar diagnostic accuracy to the established imaging paradigm. Tissue level perfusion is very important when making a treatment decision in stroke (ie. deciding to attempt to remove a blood clot occlusing a brain artery). The current imaging paradigm uses computed tomography perfusion (CTP) to provided stroke clinicians with this information; however, this technology is expensive, provides harmful radiation to the patient, and adds several minutes of acquisition and computing time - "time is brain" in the stroke world. We've developed a simple algorithm that can take the scan acquired prior to the CTP, the CT Angiography (this looks at large blood vessels) and obtain perfusion functional images very similar to what CTP provides. We have published a proof of concept (Reid et al. Clinical Neuroradiology 2018) and now would like to develop a diagnostic software for use in a multi-center prospective trial.

SPIRAL is a novel stroke imaging concept that could make stroke diagnosis cheaper, faster, and safer for the patient while providing similar diagnostic accuracy to the established imaging paradigm. Tissue level perfusion is very important when making a treatment decision in stroke (ie. deciding to attempt to remove a blood clot occlusing a brain artery). The current imaging paradigm uses computed tomography perfusion (CTP) to provided stroke clinicians with this information; however, this technology is expensive, provides harmful radiation to the patient, and adds several minutes of acquisition and computing time - "time is brain" in the stroke world. We've developed a simple algorithm that can take the scan acquired prior to the CTP, the CT Angiography (this looks at large blood vessels) and obtain perfusion functional images very similar to what CTP provides. We have published a proof of concept (Reid et al. Clinical Neuroradiology 2018) and now would like to develop a diagnostic software for use in a multi-center prospective trial.

We have developed an algorithm which takes inputted patient data to derive the correct classification of ALS based of a number of validated criteria. The objective of this challenge is to build upon this work by developing user friendly interfaces (apps/websites) that clinicians may be inclined to use. This includes publish the existing iOS app on the App Store, convert swift code to create a responsive progressive web app which may also be published on the Google play store and the Microsoft store, convert swift code into a redcap data dictionary algorithm and build upon the current app to provide an education section that explain the logic behind why the algorithm decides to classify the patient in a certain way.

We have developed an algorithm which takes inputted patient data to derive the correct classification of ALS based of a number of validated criteria. The objective of this challenge is to build upon this work by developing user friendly interfaces (apps/websites) that clinicians may be inclined to use. This includes publish the existing iOS app on the App Store, convert swift code to create a responsive progressive web app which may also be published on the Google play store and the Microsoft store, convert swift code into a redcap data dictionary algorithm and build upon the current app to provide an education section that explain the logic behind why the algorithm decides to classify the patient in a certain way.

This project is aimed at constructing LED-based photoconversion chambers to photoactivate/convert fluorescent and optogenetic proteins and biosensors in cultured cells and ex vivo brain tissue. The ideal system would contain modular LED arrays to deliver homogenous fixed wavelength illumination to cultured cells and ex vivo tissue preparations with the purpose of exciting/activating/converting light-based protein tools for screening and evolution of new biosensor systems and optogenetic proteins.

This project is aimed at constructing LED-based photoconversion chambers to photoactivate/convert fluorescent and optogenetic proteins and biosensors in cultured cells and ex vivo brain tissue. The ideal system would contain modular LED arrays to deliver homogenous fixed wavelength illumination to cultured cells and ex vivo tissue preparations with the purpose of exciting/activating/converting light-based protein tools for screening and evolution of new biosensor systems and optogenetic proteins.

Tourette syndrome is a common neuropsychiatric disorder affecting children and adults. The disorder is characterized by motor and vocal tics, which vary in frequency and severity. The measurement of tic severity is fraught with difficulty, as tics fluctuate from hour to hour, day to day and week to week. We base the success of our therapeutic interventions by their impact on the frequency of tics. The most widely accepted measure of tic severity is the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale, which is subjective in nature. Having an objective measure of tic frequency would greatly enhance our ability to measure the effectiveness of treatments. We are interested in the development of small wearable sensors that could be placed on the surface of muscles that are active in tic generation and could be worn for a period of at least one week. The sensors should be able to measure/capture the movements/activation of muscles that are producing tics and quantify the number of tics that occur over a specified time period, for the purpose of evaluating treatment effectiveness.

Tourette syndrome is a common neuropsychiatric disorder affecting children and adults. The disorder is characterized by motor and vocal tics, which vary in frequency and severity. The measurement of tic severity is fraught with difficulty, as tics fluctuate from hour to hour, day to day and week to week. We base the success of our therapeutic interventions by their impact on the frequency of tics. The most widely accepted measure of tic severity is the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale, which is subjective in nature. Having an objective measure of tic frequency would greatly enhance our ability to measure the effectiveness of treatments. We are interested in the development of small wearable sensors that could be placed on the surface of muscles that are active in tic generation and could be worn for a period of at least one week. The sensors should be able to measure/capture the movements/activation of muscles that are producing tics and quantify the number of tics that occur over a specified time period, for the purpose of evaluating treatment effectiveness.

Our mental health plays a significant role in our ability to enjoy a happy and productive life. Utilizing public demographic data, interactions with digital devices and social media, for example - what insights can be discovered to reinvent how support for mental wellbeing or stress-related issues are addressed?

Our mental health plays a significant role in our ability to enjoy a happy and productive life. Utilizing public demographic data, interactions with digital devices and social media, for example - what insights can be discovered to reinvent how support for mental wellbeing or stress-related issues are addressed?

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) is proven to help regain motor control in adults after neurological injury such as stroke. Evidence for and use in pediatrics is in the early stages of adoption, but NMES is a promising treatment for children with cerebral palsy and childhood stroke. When NMES is used clinically, it typically involves a visit to a hospital. NMES is most effective when done with functional tasks that require arm use and, like other types of neurorehabilitation, requires a large cumulative dose. A wearable NMES device initiated by someone’s own muscles that allows them to do every day functional tasks in their own homes and communities would represent the epitome of neurorehabilitation. This challenge is an intermediary step integrating existing EMG and NMES together.

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) is proven to help regain motor control in adults after neurological injury such as stroke. Evidence for and use in pediatrics is in the early stages of adoption, but NMES is a promising treatment for children with cerebral palsy and childhood stroke. When NMES is used clinically, it typically involves a visit to a hospital. NMES is most effective when done with functional tasks that require arm use and, like other types of neurorehabilitation, requires a large cumulative dose. A wearable NMES device initiated by someone’s own muscles that allows them to do every day functional tasks in their own homes and communities would represent the epitome of neurorehabilitation. This challenge is an intermediary step integrating existing EMG and NMES together.

A rapidly growing area of interest in neuroscience is the combination of versatile and replicable behavioral assays with concurrent and precise neuronal manipulation (e.g. by using optogenetics). A major limiting factor of high-throughput data collection of this type is the size, cost and limited availability of behavioral conditioning equipment. One way to overcome this limitation is to develop novel equipment to test in more versatile environments (e.g., home cages) at a fraction of the typical cost. The central goal of this project is to design and make a 3D-printed behavioral conditioning apparatus combined with an Arduino-controlled pulse generator capable of providing highly temporally and spatially specific optogenetic stimulation in any chosen environment. This project will also combine video tracking software to simultaneously observe behaviors additional to conditioning output parameters. Lastly, this project will require development of novel software to provide easily accessible data acquisition and recording. The end product will be highly versatile and desirable to the behavioral neuroscience community placing it in a prime position for potential commercial production.

A rapidly growing area of interest in neuroscience is the combination of versatile and replicable behavioral assays with concurrent and precise neuronal manipulation (e.g. by using optogenetics). A major limiting factor of high-throughput data collection of this type is the size, cost and limited availability of behavioral conditioning equipment. One way to overcome this limitation is to develop novel equipment to test in more versatile environments (e.g., home cages) at a fraction of the typical cost. The central goal of this project is to design and make a 3D-printed behavioral conditioning apparatus combined with an Arduino-controlled pulse generator capable of providing highly temporally and spatially specific optogenetic stimulation in any chosen environment. This project will also combine video tracking software to simultaneously observe behaviors additional to conditioning output parameters. Lastly, this project will require development of novel software to provide easily accessible data acquisition and recording. The end product will be highly versatile and desirable to the behavioral neuroscience community placing it in a prime position for potential commercial production.

The ability to fixate gaze and demonstrate accurate visual pursuit is the second most feasible measure of eye movement control in disorder of consciousness individuals. The improvement in the ability to perform eye tracking is directly correlated with functional recovery. Even though, there is a tremendous technological progress using digital methods connected to high throughput computers to measure spontaneous eye movements or ocular responses to stimuli, the practicability and high cost are barriers for the implementation in clinical practice. The improvement in visual function is depend on the ability to accurately provide visual impute, observe and assess visual responses. By the visual therapy practice, eye muscles can be strengthening and visual sensory response can improve. In consequence, the ability to use a developed controlled eye movement can impact the quality of life for the severe brain injured individuals since they would be able to use the visual control to manage environmental control devices or communicate. The objective of this challenge is to develop a portable eye tracking mount device that can be used in a clinical setting to facilitate visual pursuit practice. It will enhance the visual therapy practice by providing better support for the brain injury individuals perform the visual exercises.

The ability to fixate gaze and demonstrate accurate visual pursuit is the second most feasible measure of eye movement control in disorder of consciousness individuals. The improvement in the ability to perform eye tracking is directly correlated with functional recovery. Even though, there is a tremendous technological progress using digital methods connected to high throughput computers to measure spontaneous eye movements or ocular responses to stimuli, the practicability and high cost are barriers for the implementation in clinical practice. The improvement in visual function is depend on the ability to accurately provide visual impute, observe and assess visual responses. By the visual therapy practice, eye muscles can be strengthening and visual sensory response can improve. In consequence, the ability to use a developed controlled eye movement can impact the quality of life for the severe brain injured individuals since they would be able to use the visual control to manage environmental control devices or communicate. The objective of this challenge is to develop a portable eye tracking mount device that can be used in a clinical setting to facilitate visual pursuit practice. It will enhance the visual therapy practice by providing better support for the brain injury individuals perform the visual exercises.

Acute ischemic stroke, resulting from a clot preventing blood flow to portions of the brain, involves a rapid loss of brain cells (2 million neurons/minute) and requires emergent treatment to reopen vessels, using clot-busting drugs or devices to pull out the clot from large obstructed vessels. In most cases, there is an inevitable transport delay involved for the patient to be taken from the location of stroke-onset to a comprehensive stroke centre by emergency medical services. There is therefore an urgent need for therapies that can be safely administered en route to protect as much brain-at-risk in suspected stroke cases for as long as possible until further definitive therapies can be administered. Remote ischemic conditioning (RIC) has emerged as a means to try and protect the brain after a stroke has begun, and involves inflating a BP cuff to 200mmHg for 5-minutes followed by reperfusion for another 5-minutes, and then repeating the process. This is thought to induce an endogenous protective environment, consisting of humoral and neuronal-mediated responses that promote cell survival and repair and inhibit or dampen apoptotic (cell-death) and inflammatory pathways, helping reduce further ischemic injury. This challenge centers around developing a prototype for 4-limb RIC treatment (i.e. both arms and both legs) by leveraging existing BP monitor/cuff technology, to maximize the "dose" of RIC that can be provided in the acute stroke setting during patient transport to a compressive stroke center. If successful, this device could directly impact the care of the 15 million patients who experience stroke each year worldwide.

Acute ischemic stroke, resulting from a clot preventing blood flow to portions of the brain, involves a rapid loss of brain cells (2 million neurons/minute) and requires emergent treatment to reopen vessels, using clot-busting drugs or devices to pull out the clot from large obstructed vessels. In most cases, there is an inevitable transport delay involved for the patient to be taken from the location of stroke-onset to a comprehensive stroke centre by emergency medical services. There is therefore an urgent need for therapies that can be safely administered en route to protect as much brain-at-risk in suspected stroke cases for as long as possible until further definitive therapies can be administered. Remote ischemic conditioning (RIC) has emerged as a means to try and protect the brain after a stroke has begun, and involves inflating a BP cuff to 200mmHg for 5-minutes followed by reperfusion for another 5-minutes, and then repeating the process. This is thought to induce an endogenous protective environment, consisting of humoral and neuronal-mediated responses that promote cell survival and repair and inhibit or dampen apoptotic (cell-death) and inflammatory pathways, helping reduce further ischemic injury. This challenge centers around developing a prototype for 4-limb RIC treatment (i.e. both arms and both legs) by leveraging existing BP monitor/cuff technology, to maximize the "dose" of RIC that can be provided in the acute stroke setting during patient transport to a compressive stroke center. If successful, this device could directly impact the care of the 15 million patients who experience stroke each year worldwide.



SPONSORS

Presenting Sponsors

 
Branch Out accelerates tech solutions and non-pharmaceutical approaches to neurological disorders. Through our grant program, we fund top neuroscientists exploring alternative brain research. Our vision? A world free from neurological disorders. We fund research that fits into the rigorous NeuroCAM (Neuroscience + Complementary & Alternative Modalities) criteria. All research proposals are reviewed by our Scientific Review Panel to ensure it meets the highest quality of research methods and scientific measures. Since 2010, we’ve raised nearly $2 Million for alternative brain research, funded over sixty-five (65) research projects and have expanded our University Grant Program to partner with five educational institutes across Western Canada.

Branch Out accelerates tech solutions and non-pharmaceutical approaches to neurological disorders. Through our grant program, we fund top neuroscientists exploring alternative brain research. Our vision? A world free from neurological disorders. We fund research that fits into the rigorous NeuroCAM (Neuroscience + Complementary & Alternative Modalities) criteria. All research proposals are reviewed by our Scientific Review Panel to ensure it meets the highest quality of research methods and scientific measures. Since 2010, we’ve raised nearly $2 Million for alternative brain research, funded over sixty-five (65) research projects and have expanded our University Grant Program to partner with five educational institutes across Western Canada.

 
The MS Society provides services to people with multiple sclerosis and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease. We have a membership of 17,000 and are the only national voluntary organization in Canada that supports both MS research and services. Since our founding in 1948, the core support of the MS Society has been from tens of thousands of dedicated individuals, companies and foundations in communities across Canada. The Society receives almost no funding from government. Some 1,500 volunteers serve on MS Society national, division and chapter boards and committees. An estimated 13,500 women and men are volunteers for service programs, fundraising events, public awareness campaigns and social action activities.

The MS Society provides services to people with multiple sclerosis and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease. We have a membership of 17,000 and are the only national voluntary organization in Canada that supports both MS research and services. Since our founding in 1948, the core support of the MS Society has been from tens of thousands of dedicated individuals, companies and foundations in communities across Canada. The Society receives almost no funding from government. Some 1,500 volunteers serve on MS Society national, division and chapter boards and committees. An estimated 13,500 women and men are volunteers for service programs, fundraising events, public awareness campaigns and social action activities.

Founded in 1965, the Schulich School of Engineering is home to over 170 faculty members, 1100 graduate students, and 3500 undergraduate students. With 5 departments (Chemical and Petroleum, Civil, Electrical and Computer, Geomatics, and Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering), and four research and education centers (that focus on project management, bioengineering, energy and the environment, and pipeline engineering), Schulich is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of their students, the engineering profession, and the world. Their Strategic Vision, “Energizing Engineering Leadership” has three priorities: to foster diversity, to support research that makes a difference, and to support student success

Founded in 1965, the Schulich School of Engineering is home to over 170 faculty members, 1100 graduate students, and 3500 undergraduate students. With 5 departments (Chemical and Petroleum, Civil, Electrical and Computer, Geomatics, and Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering), and four research and education centers (that focus on project management, bioengineering, energy and the environment, and pipeline engineering), Schulich is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of their students, the engineering profession, and the world. Their Strategic Vision, “Energizing Engineering Leadership” has three priorities: to foster diversity, to support research that makes a difference, and to support student success

Gold Sponsors

The Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) is an internationally recognized centre of excellence in brain and mental health research and education, based at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine and working in partnership with Alberta Health Services. The HBI is composed of nearly 750 people, spanning 16 academic departments and nine faculties working towards a shared vision.

The Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) is an internationally recognized centre of excellence in brain and mental health research and education, based at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine and working in partnership with Alberta Health Services. The HBI is composed of nearly 750 people, spanning 16 academic departments and nine faculties working towards a shared vision.

The University of Calgary Graduate Students’ Association represents the collective interests of graduate students to governing bodies of the university, all levels of government and the surrounding community of Calgary. Established in 1967, and having approximately 6500 members, the GSA is charged with the social, academic and practical well-being and growth of graduate students on campus.

The University of Calgary Graduate Students’ Association represents the collective interests of graduate students to governing bodies of the university, all levels of government and the surrounding community of Calgary. Established in 1967, and having approximately 6500 members, the GSA is charged with the social, academic and practical well-being and growth of graduate students on campus.

Exergy Solutions, founded in 2013, is a rapidly expanding company of versatile and talented technical professionals. We are experts in combining agile project management and disruptive technology to accelerate innovation. Our custom solutions leverage immersive virtual reality experiences, a wide range of 3D printers and in-house prototyping workshop to turn concept into reality with quality and speed. The Exergy team believes in the passion of people and strength in diversity. We create productive relationships where people collaborate and thoughts collide, for a constructive environment aimed at re-inventing the competitive advantage and diversification of our economy

Exergy Solutions, founded in 2013, is a rapidly expanding company of versatile and talented technical professionals. We are experts in combining agile project management and disruptive technology to accelerate innovation. Our custom solutions leverage immersive virtual reality experiences, a wide range of 3D printers and in-house prototyping workshop to turn concept into reality with quality and speed. The Exergy team believes in the passion of people and strength in diversity. We create productive relationships where people collaborate and thoughts collide, for a constructive environment aimed at re-inventing the competitive advantage and diversification of our economy

The Owerko Centre at the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute is dedicated to studying neurodevelopmental disorders and child mental health. The centre draws its support from a large group of multidisciplinary researchers across the University of Calgary with expertise encompassing a broad range of neurodevelopmental and pediatric mental health research in basic, clinical, health services and population health.

The Owerko Centre at the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute is dedicated to studying neurodevelopmental disorders and child mental health. The centre draws its support from a large group of multidisciplinary researchers across the University of Calgary with expertise encompassing a broad range of neurodevelopmental and pediatric mental health research in basic, clinical, health services and population health.


Silver Sponsors

 
The Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) is celebrating its first decade of discovery in 2019. The institute supports excellence in research, education and knowledge translation to improve the health and well-being of children from pre-conception to adulthood.

The Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) is celebrating its first decade of discovery in 2019. The institute supports excellence in research, education and knowledge translation to improve the health and well-being of children from pre-conception to adulthood.

The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education is a mental health research centre dedicated to advancing research and education on early identification, treatment and prevention of mental illness. The Centre works closely with academic and community partners in Calgary, across the country and internationally.

The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education is a mental health research centre dedicated to advancing research and education on early identification, treatment and prevention of mental illness. The Centre works closely with academic and community partners in Calgary, across the country and internationally.

Campus Alberta Neuroscience, launched in 2009, is a catalyst and connector, a way to bring basic researchers, applied scientists and clinicians together. It is a single community, a neuroscience “superhighway” between the Universities of Lethbridge, Calgary, Alberta.

Campus Alberta Neuroscience, launched in 2009, is a catalyst and connector, a way to bring basic researchers, applied scientists and clinicians together. It is a single community, a neuroscience “superhighway” between the Universities of Lethbridge, Calgary, Alberta.

 
 
BME Calgary initiative is educating the next generation of leaders for the bio-economy with our multidisciplinary training programs that involve over 250 students, 60 faculty members and 6 faculties, and include a direct-admit graduate program and an undergraduate specialization in biomedical engineering.

BME Calgary initiative is educating the next generation of leaders for the bio-economy with our multidisciplinary training programs that involve over 250 students, 60 faculty members and 6 faculties, and include a direct-admit graduate program and an undergraduate specialization in biomedical engineering.

The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking was created in 2017 with a generous gift from the Hunter Family Foundation as an interdisciplinary nucleus for activities that will support entrepreneurial student experiences, enable faculty to lead in innovation, and expand a growing community of entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers.

The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking was created in 2017 with a generous gift from the Hunter Family Foundation as an interdisciplinary nucleus for activities that will support entrepreneurial student experiences, enable faculty to lead in innovation, and expand a growing community of entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers.

 

Community Sponsors

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PROGRAM RESOURCES

GuideBOOK

Program Guidebook (last updated 2 April 2019)

MANDATORY Program submissions

Neuro Nexus wants you to get the most out of the 2019 program, and have therefore designed Program Milestones to help you gauge your progress.

Some milestones are considered Mandatory Components, which include aspects related to safety, team communication, and planning lab time ahead. In addition to this, we’ve also provided recommended Development Reports, which are completely optional, but designed to help you make the most out of the competition. Additionally, Completion of Mandatory Components (on time) and the recommended Development Reports also counts towards points for consideration of awards - so take advantage of locking in these participation points!

Week 0 (March 28)

Team charter

Week 3 (April 19)

IP plan and checklist

week 6 (May 10)

Attend the Health Hack Weekend and Demo Day

NEW! Demo Day Essentials

NEW! Health Hack Weekend Schedule

DEVELOPMENT REPORTS (competitive program submissions)

Week 3 (April 19)

Phase 1 Development Report

Week 5 (May 3)

Phase 2 Development Report



FAQ

What are the dates for this program?

Neuro Nexus unfolds over 6 weeks, and consists 4 key events:

March 27 Innovator Icebreaker: A casual night of networking with fellow participants.
March 28 Pitch Day: Learn about challenges first-hand from neuroscientists, clinicians, and mental health professionals. After Pitch Day, you and your team will have 6 weeks to understand the problem, design a solution, and develop a build plan for a functional prototype.

May 10-12 Health Hack Weekend: Implement your solution within 72 hours. Access to a broad range of rapid prototyping tools will be provided.

May 13 Demo Day: Showcase your solution to the community and compete for awards.

What are the eligibility criteria for innovators?

Neuro Nexus is a multidisciplinary hackathon open to anyone studying at, or that holds a certification from, a post-secondary education institution.

If you were trained in neuroscience, nursing/medicine, psychology: your experience in the lab, clinic, or community will help shape the critical early stages of design to ensure relevance to the biological problem or human health impact.

If you hail from an engineering or hard science background: your programming, app development, electronics design, 3D printing, and mathematical modelling skills will be most relevant to the challenges posed.

I’m unavailable for some of the key events of the program. Can I still participate as an Innovator?

Absolutely! We recognize that our participants will have different schedules. Missing an event, or a day of the Health Hack Weekend should not disrupt your experience too badly so long as you coordinate with your team.

An exception to this rule is Pitch Day. We strongly recommend that you make every effort to attend this as it’s when you’ll learn about challenges and form a team. Being able to meet with the prospective team members will help you get the most out of the program. If you cannot attend Pitch Day, however, we’ll add you to a ‘Free Agents’ list, so that smaller/underskilled teams that form can recruit you in the first week of the program.



CONTACT

Name *
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TEAM

Leadership

Kathryn Simone  Co-Executive Lead  Fundraising and Partnerships

Kathryn Simone

Co-Executive Lead

Fundraising and Partnerships

Faizan Malik  Co-Executive Lead  Technology and Education

Faizan Malik

Co-Executive Lead

Technology and Education

 

Marketing

Kristina Komarek, Lead  Design

Kristina Komarek, Lead

Design

Roxanne Howard  Web Development

Roxanne Howard

Web Development

Mariam Keshavjee  Social Media

Mariam Keshavjee

Social Media

Julia St. Amand  Social Media

Julia St. Amand

Social Media

 

Operations

Will Wilson, co-Lead  Internal Communications

Will Wilson, co-Lead

Internal Communications

Pauline de Jesus, co-Lead  Events and Logistics

Pauline de Jesus, co-Lead

Events and Logistics

Linhui Yu  Technology and Education

Linhui Yu

Technology and Education

Dion Kelly, co-Lead  Events and Logistics

Dion Kelly, co-Lead

Events and Logistics

Gavin Petrie, co-Lead  Internal Communications

Gavin Petrie, co-Lead

Internal Communications

 

CHALLENGE RECRUITMENT

Bryce Geeraert, co-Lead  Industry and Community

Bryce Geeraert, co-Lead

Industry and Community

Heather Leduc-Pessah  Clinical

Heather Leduc-Pessah

Clinical

Shane Nicholls  Basic Science

Shane Nicholls

Basic Science

Trevor Low  Clinical Research

Trevor Low

Clinical Research

Nicole Burma  Clinical

Nicole Burma

Clinical

 

INNOVATOR RECRUITMENT

Jeremy Braun, co-Lead  Physics and Math

Jeremy Braun, co-Lead

Physics and Math

Kelsea Gorzo  Medicine and Life Sciences

Kelsea Gorzo

Medicine and Life Sciences

Taylor Thomas  MBT

Taylor Thomas

MBT

Sam Baglot, co-Lead  Medicine and Life sciences

Sam Baglot, co-Lead

Medicine and Life sciences

Emily Hannah  Engineering

Emily Hannah

Engineering

Timothy McBain, co-Lead  SAIT

Timothy McBain, co-Lead

SAIT

Abed Sarhan  Computer Science

Abed Sarhan

Computer Science

Thomas Lijnse, co-Lead  Engineering

Thomas Lijnse, co-Lead

Engineering

Emily Hanniman  Neuroscience

Emily Hanniman

Neuroscience

 
 

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