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Government of Canada invests $2 million in world‑leading cancer treatment technology developed by Dalhousie University researcher

Posted by Media Centre on July 23, 2017 in News

Halifax, NS - Dalhousie University welcomed Mr. Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions and Member of Parliament for Halifax, and Stefan Vilsmeier, the CEO and Founder of Brainlab AG, to campus today to announce a $2,065,020 investment in technology that will change how radiation therapy is used to treat cancer, and a new partnership with an international medical technology giant that will make it globally accessible.

Dalhousie researcher Dr. James Robar, a professor in the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Physics and Atmospheric Science, and his medical physics team from the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), are the recipients of funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF). The AIF helps Atlantic Canadians develop and bring to market new products and services that lead to market success, grow strategic sectors, or lead to the creation of research and commercialization partnerships.

Large linear accelerators, guided by state-of-the-art software, are used to deliver radiation therapy to cancer patients. Currently, the challenge this equipment provides is a lack of ability to focus the ideal dosage and intensity of radiation on the tumour itself, while minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding tissues and organs.

Dr. Robar, who is also Chief of Medical Physics at the NSHA, and his team are currently in the process of developing and improving five radiotherapy and radiosurgery technologies. His work will enable more precisely targeted radiation treatments for cancer patients, which will result in less damage to the healthy organs and tissue.

The new partnership between Brainlab and the NSHA will help bring this technology to market and distribute NSHA’s products internationally. Brainlab is an international leader in software-driven medical technology, and its advanced systems can be found more than 100 countries and in 75 per cent of the top 1,000 cancer treatment centres globally.

The company has an existing relationship with Dr. Robar and Dalhousie University. In 2016, an algorithm developed by Dr. Robar and Lee MacDonald, a PhD student in the university’s medical physics program, was licensed by Brainlab. The algorithm, when used in combination with Brainlab’s existing software, allows for the patient’s bed to be moved dynamically during radiation treatment. The result is radiation that is focused, to the greatest degree possible, on the tumour itself.

This major investment by the Government of Canada will be used to hire eight highly skilled individuals full-time, purchase specialized equipment and introduce this technology to market more quickly.

For more information on the Atlantic Innovation Fund, please visit the ACOA website


“The research teams at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Health Authority have established an international reputation. Their partnership with Brainlab focuses on bringing the technology to market where it will benefit people around the world. Targeted investments such as these are helping us grow beyond our borders in line with our Atlantic Growth Strategy.”

- Mr. Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions and Member of Parliament for Halifax

“Dr. Robar’s research will fundamentally change treatment for cancer patients. He and his team are developing more precise radiation therapies that will limit damage to patients’ healthy organs and tissues. This work is world class and we’re incredibly proud that it is happening at Dalhousie.”

- Dr. Richard Florizone, President, Dalhousie University

“The efficacy of radiation therapy depends critically on the accuracy with which cancer is targeted. Investments by and collaboration with ACOA and Brainlab will not only allow our Medical Physics team to further the state-of-the-art in this regard, but will establish a channel ensuring that improvements may reach patients around the world.”

- Dr. James Robar, Chief of Medical Physics, Nova Scotia Health Authority


Media contacts:

Michele Charlton
Communications Advisor
Dalhousie Research Services
Tel: (902) 403-5628
Cell: (902) 222-2817
Email: Michele.charlton@dal.ca


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