HR Microscope – September

September 2022

Master of Science in Biotechnology Set to Launch at Toronto Campus 

The future of biotechnology holds the keys to solving some of today’s biggest problems, such as developing life-saving vaccines and curing diseases. We spoke to Hazel Sive and Jared R. Auclair from Northeastern’s College of Science about how students in the Master of Science in Biotechnology program are ready to tackle these problems and bring fresh perspectives. This fall, the Master of Science in Biotechnology (MS BIOT) will launch its first cohort at Northeastern University-Toronto. We learned more about what’s in store for biotech and bio pharma in Toronto and how Northeastern is preparing graduates to help shape the future.

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Providence Therapeutics: September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month

On September 3, 2022, Adam invited all Providence employees to hike Nihahi Ridge in Kananaskis, Alberta: “I would like to invite you all on a fun hike up a mountain called Nihahi Ridge. This mountain means a lot to me because it is the same one I was atop 9 years ago on September 2, 2013. This was the day before I heard the news that I had brain cancer. After many miracles and endless help from people like you, my family, friends, and doctors, I am still here today and climbing mountains. I also want to give a shout-out to my Dad and Mom (Brad and Rebecca Sorenson) for all the sacrifices they made through this journey, they are my greatest miracle.”

Childhood cancer is different from cancers that develop later in life and 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20. It is important that research and improvements in diagnosis and treatment continue as it is estimated that 13.7 million cases of childhood cancer will occur between 2020-2050, with the majority of those cases occurring in developing countries. Currently, the global 5-year net childhood cancer survival rate is estimated to be 37.4%.  Not only is September an important time to raise awareness to pediatric cancer but it is pivotal moment in the foundations of Providence Therapeutics and the story of Adam Sorenson, a childhood cancer survivor and one of Brad Sorenson, our CEO’s, children.

Adam was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma which prompted Brad to found Providence, in the hopes that he could provide hope to families who found themselves in a similar situation.  As a result, Providence was formed with a focus on personalized cancer therapies.

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Notch Therapeutics: Maximizing the benefits of cell therapies  

Access to a uniform and unlimited supply of cells is a critical limiting factor in the development of cell therapies to treat cancer and many other diseases. Current therapeutic white blood cell (T cell) therapies require a complex, patient-specific and time-consuming manufacturing process to modify and alter a patient’s T cells. This approach can lead to delays and variability in the cells produced, negatively impacting patient outcomes.

Notch Therapeutics – with operations in Vancouver, British Columbia, Toronto, Ontario, and Seattle, Washington – is working hard to change the game for cellular immunotherapies. The company’s proprietary technology platform enables the development of uniform, iPSC-derived T cells and other immune cells, from any source of pluripotent stem cells. These iPSC-derived cells are specifically engineered to address the underlying biology of complex disease systems.

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IMV Inc: What if the promise of cancer vaccines was finally realized?

IMV Inc. is a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company based in Dartmouth, NS and Boston, MA. IMV is advancing a portfolio of immune-educating therapies based on its novel DPX® platform to treat solid and hematologic cancers without the well-known toxicities typically associated with cancer therapies. By generating educated immune cells that can elicit a specific, robust and sustained anti-tumor response to destroy cancer, IMV is dedicated to giving patients a chance to enjoy a long and healthy life.

The physical chemical nature of the DPX delivery platform is different. It leverages a lipid vesicle formulation to retain therapeutic cargo at the site of injection, promoting prolonged interaction with antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Unlike traditional formulations, DPX prevents leaching into other tissues, allowing for optimal engagement of the immune system and more durable immune responses, which has been an issue of previous cancer vaccines. The therapeutic cargo packed into the DPX delivery system is actively taken up by the action of APCs only. APCs carry that cargo to the lymph nodes, mirroring the natural physiologic flow of antigens through the immune system.

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In case you missed it…

BioTalent Canada introduces National Talent Strategy to address bio-economy skills shortage

BioTalent Canada unveiled its national talent strategy, a critical element of its mission to help the Canadian bio-economy meet its short- and long-term labour needs. The strategy will help support the sector with valuable labour market information and the best job-ready human resources available to address current and forecasted labour shortages.

According to BioTalent Canada’s most recent labour market research, the bio-economy will need to hire an additional 65,000 new workers by 2029. Current estimates indicate there will not be enough workers to meet that demand. In some areas, employers are expected to be able to fill only 25% of their available jobs.

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New diversity and inclusion resources to assist with bio-economy talent shortage

BioTalent Canada launched the Building Workplace Resiliency resources for their new I.D.E.A.L. Biosciences Employer recognition program. In addition to providing guidance to employers looking to submit applications for the program this fall, these resources are designed to help with recruiting and retaining talent while keeping IDEAL (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Leadership) principles top of mind.

The I.D.E.A.L. Biosciences Employer recognition program will recognize organizations in Canada’s bio-economy leading the way in embodying the diverse and inclusive corporate principles needed to promote growth and success in the sector.

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BioTalent Canada announces its Board of Directors for 2022-2023

Following their Annual General Meeting, BioTalent Canada has broadened its leadership team with the announcement of 16 new and returning Board Members. Under the guidance of returning Chair, Reg Joseph, CEO, Health Cities, the Board is well-positioned to support the talent within one of Canada’s most vital sectors.

The announcement of the new Board comes at a time where Canada’s bio-economy is contending with a severe talent shortage – one that could see four job openings for every job seeker by 2029.

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Bio-economy Labour Market Information now available via new online portal

BioTalent Canada launched its new online bio-economy labour market information (LMI) portal, which will allow Canadians, and especially employers to access data critical to understanding the shifting landscape of the industry’s competitive talent pool.

For over 20 years, BioTalent Canada has been a leader in sharing LMI specific to the talent needs of Canada’s bio-economy. The new LMI portal was developed using data from the organization’s recent LMI Study – which sounds the alarm on a dire talent shortage that will see 65,000 new positions required by 2029 to sustain the industry.

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