Archives for November 2023

Ontario Genomics Welcomes New Board Members

Ontario Genomics' New Board Members

Ontario Genomics is delighted to announce the appointments of Anne Woods and Derek Newton to our Board of Directors. To further expand the board’s perspective, we created a voting student representative role and are thrilled that Jehoshua Sharma, PhD Candidate at the University of Guelph, has transitioned from observer to a full voting member. These three individuals bring a wealth of insight, experience, and expertise in areas crucial to our organization and will contribute to achieving the strategic vision of Ontario Genomics.

Ontario Genomics is also excited to announce Ann Marie Vaughan will take on the role of Chair of the Board, and Colin Kelleher the role of vice-chair. We thank Deb Stark for her service in the role of Chair over the last four years. Her contributions were vital in advancing Ontario Genomics’ board governance and leading the board’s oversight and input in the development of Ontario Genomics’ 5-year strategic vision and plan. We appreciate her ongoing commitment to the board in the role of Past Chair.

Ontario Genomics is also thankful to retiring board members for their years of deep commitment to our board. Stephen Cummings served on our board for nine years and played an invaluable role in chairing Ontario Genomics’ Audit Committee and ensuring good governance of Ontario Genomics’ finances. Charmaine Dean served on our board for three years and provided important insights into the perspectives of Ontario’s researchers and entrepreneurs. Alison Sunstrum’s astute private sector outlook sharpened our vision for company support over the past year. Thank you for your contributions to OG!

To learn more about the new members and additional changes to our Board please visit our Governance page.

Anne Woods

Anne Woods is the Managing Director of Life Sciences & Healthcare at RBCx where she leads the banks efforts in the sector across Canada. Born and raised in Toronto, Anne brings over 25 years of experience in life sciences and capital markets, with 15 years of experience within pharma and biotech. Prior to RBCx, Anne launched and led the Life Sciences and Healthcare practice in Canada for Silicon Valley Bank. Read more about Anne Woods

Derek Newton

Derek Newton is the Assistant Vice-President, Innovation, Partnerships, and Entrepreneurship at The University of Toronto (U of T). He supports the university’s bold innovation agenda towards fostering the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs, developing successful corporate research partnerships, and managing the IP portfolio of the university. Read more about Derek Newton

Jehoshua Sharma

Jehoshua Sharma is a PhD student from Trinidad and Tobago, currently at the University of Guelph in Ontario. He is studying the fungal pathogen Candida albicans in the lab of Dr. Rebecca Shapiro. He is also developing novel CRISPR-Cas variants to expand the current genetic manipulation toolbox for fungal pathogens to study the functional genomics of drug resistant isolates. For his work in the Shapiro lab he has won the ‘CBS, Best Paper’ award for his CRISPRi system, the International Doctoral Scholarship and multiple grants. Read more about Jehoshua Sharma

Ontario Biotech Start-ups Get Government Funding Boost

From Ottawa to Guelph, life saving and tasty innovation is happening

Four new start-ups have been welcomed into BioCreate, Ontario Genomics’ $11.6-million accelerator program providing financial and business support to biotechnology companies creating game-changing solutions in the health, food and agriculture, and cleantech industries.

BioCreate is funded by Ontario Genomics and a Government of Canada investment of over $5.6 million, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). The program connects highly vetted companies with $150,000 in non-repayable funding, 18 months of business mentorship and access to critical infrastructure. They’ll also get the opportunity to pitch to investors for further funding. Here are this round’s recipients:

  • Escarpment Labs is a Guelph-based company that supplies cutting-edge yeast strains to craft brewers to enhance the flavour of their brews and ensure easier fermentation during the beer making process.
  • QurCan Therapeutics is a Toronto medical sciences company that has developed technology to boost the effectiveness of cancer-fighting medicines to improve the quality of life for patients.
  • Spectra Plasmonics is based in Kingston, where it is perfecting a helpful tool for the food and beverage industry. The company’s bacteria sensing tests give manufacturers quick and accurate results on the safety of their food.
  • Virica Biotech is an Ottawa-based medical sciences company focused on a ground-breaking approach to make cell and gene therapies cheaper and easier to produce so more patients can get access to potentially life-saving treatments.

These four companies join the eight health, food and agriculture, and cleantech start-ups that were accepted into the BioCreate program last spring.

Ontario Genomics President and CEO, Dr. Bettina Hamelin, says, “BioCreate’s financial investment comes at a critical time for these companies to scale up and create new jobs, while the mentorship gives them the business support they need to succeed and get their technologies and tools into real-world use.

It’s great to hear that these four incredible companies have joined the BioCreate program,” says the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario. “It’s our government’s priority to support emerging genomics companies with access to the tools and resources they need grow and make a positive impact on the lives of Canadians.

About Ontario Genomics
Ontario Genomics is a not-for-profit organization funded by the Government of Ontario, the Government of Canada and other partners. Since 2000, we’ve been involved with cutting-edge science to find homegrown solutions to challenges the world faces like climate change, food insecurity and healthcare. Find out more at

About FedDev Ontario
For 14 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.


Media Contacts
Maggie Blood
Innovation Communications and Public Affairs Manager

Edward Hutchinson
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario