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Life Sciences Ontario announces 2017 LSO Awards honouring Ontario life science leaders

TORONTO, November 30, 2016 – Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) today announced its 2017 LSO Award Winners, in recognition of outstanding contributions to the province’s life sciences sector. The awards will be presented at LSO’s Annual Awards Gala on March 1, 2017 at Toronto’s Liberty Grand.

“This year’s LSO Award recipients represent the very best within our sector,” says Paul Lucas, Chair of LSO’s Board of Directors. “We are incredibly lucky to have this calibre of talent here in Ontario, and we’re pleased to be able to recognize these individuals and their contributions.”

LSO President & CEO, Jason Field, notes that Ontario’s life sciences sector is vital to our province’s economic and social prosperity, and its success is fuelled by the contributions of talented and hardworking individuals.

“The LSO Awards are an important part of our mandate to amplify the voice of Ontario’s life sciences sector, and advocate for its ongoing growth,” says Field. “We need to be vocal about our wins: recognizing the people and companies behind our success is a crucial part of that.”

The 2017 recipients are:

Lifetime Achievement Award
Mickey Milner, Past President & CEO, HTX

Dr. Morris (Mickey) Milner has made outstanding contributions to R&D and commercialization in Ontario’s Medical and Assistive Technology sector. Most recently, he served as President & CEO for HTX (The Health Technology Exchange), following a 26-year career with the Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre. His activities there included developing a wide range of assistive technologies to aid persons with disabilities. Dr. Milner is a Professor Emeritus in the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, where his research centered around assistive technology, accessibility issues, and development of powered upper-extremity prosthetics.

Award Description:
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a highly-respected leader who has inspired and led Ontario’s life sciences community to imagine a bigger and better future for our sector. It is awarded to an individual who is recognized as a significant contributor in more than one domain of Ontario life sciences, including industry, government, academia, volunteerism, and philanthropy.

LSO Volunteer Award
Alison Symington
, Principal, Life Science Strategic Consulting 

For the past two decades, Dr. Alison Symington has been a tireless advocate for STEM education, a mentor to students, and a key volunteer in Ontario’s life sciences community. Through her membership on the LSO Board of Directors, she dedicates large amounts of her personal time to fundraising and community outreach. She chairs LSO’s Knowledge & Networking Breakfast committee and also sits on its Policy & Government Relations and Gala committees. In her professional pursuits, Dr. Symington has contributed countless volunteer hours through her involvement with the Science Technology and Awareness Network, her teaching and advisory role in Seneca College’s Regulatory Affairs program, and her past work as Executive Director of Bioscience Education Canada and VP Research and Corporate Development for Ontario Genomics.

Award Description:
This award is bestowed on an active participant in Ontario’s life sciences community who receives no remuneration for volunteer work. It is awarded to an individual who supports and adds energy to life sciences initiatives and events in Ontario. Nominees must be LSO members (or members of an LSO partner organization).

Community Service Award
Rafi Hofstein, President & CEO, MaRS Innovation

Dr. Raphael (Rafi) Hofstein has cultivated a long and influential career in life sciences, which began in the 1980s, developing Israel’s world-leading biotech sector. Dr. Hofstein is currently member of the Board of Directors of Life Sciences Ontario and Clinical Trials Ontario, as well as a member of the Organizing Committee of the Public Policy Forum on Venture Capital and Innovation (part of the Quebec City Conference). In his role as President and CEO of MaRS Innovation, Dr. Hofstein drives the commercialization of technology from universities and research institutes, overseeing a portfolio of more than 1,400 intellectual property disclosures to bring Canada’s most promising research breakthroughs to market. Through his leadership and involvement in these interests, Dr. Hofstein has made a significant and long-lasting impact on the life sciences sector in Ontario, and in the broader Canadian context.

Award Description:
This award spotlights a public or private sector individual who has made extraordinary contributions toward building Ontario’s life sciences sector, going above and beyond the call of duty. Contributions may include leadership, public policy, mentorship, advocacy, commercialization, investment, education, and promotion of life sciences.  

Life Science Company of the Year
Synaptive Medical – represented by Cameron Piron, President and Co-founder

Synaptive is a medical device and technology company that develops integrated solutions to improve the process of healthcare delivery from diagnosis to interventions, and beyond.  Founded by a team of serial entrepreneurs, Synaptive has launched eight products in the United States and Canada in four years through collaboration with renowned surgeons who specialize in complex brain and spine surgery. Synaptive aims to revolutionize the healthcare industry by crossing traditional barriers in and beyond the operating room. For example, their BrightMatter technology supports a multi-disciplinary approach to providing improved outcomes with advanced imaging, surgical planning, navigation, visualization, and informatics. For more information, visit:

Award Description:
This award recognizes an Ontario-based company that has demonstrated strong leadership and achieved significant milestones in life sciences research and development, through working to commercialize innovative products. It is open to all early-stage companies from the broader life sciences community, including (but not limited to) human health, agri-food, and industrial biotechnology.

Life Sciences Leadership Award
Russell Williams, Vice President Government Relations and Public Policy, Canadian Diabetes Association

Russell Williams is a passionate advocate for innovation in health care and economic development. As CDA’s Vice President, Government Relations and Public Policy, Mr. Williams advises, shapes, develops, and delivers on strategic priorities with regard to policy development, government relations, and advocacy. He proactively addresses local and nation-wide issues relevant to diabetes, creates networks and alliances, and builds positive internal and external relationships with government representatives, policy makers, and other stakeholders. Mr. Williams’ aim is to effectively communicate and advance CDA’s interests and influence political and government agendas toward positive outcomes for Canadians living with and at risk of diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Mr. Williams was previously President of Innovative Medicines Canada (formerly Rx&D), an association of more than 50 innovative life sciences companies. During his time there, he was involved in numerous provincial task forces on pharmaceutical policy; he worked directly with key government agencies, and participated in a number of crucial coalitions focused on improving research, healthcare, and ethics networks. Prior to his appointment as President of Rx&D, Mr. Williams acted as the Member of the National Assembly for the riding of Nelligan in Montréal, and advocated for many causes, including better patient care, improved emergency services, increased research and development, and individual rights, as well as reform for disability services.

Award Description:
This award is a special recognition given by the LSO Board of Directors to honour individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership through their contributions to the life sciences sector.  Recipients can be from any life sciences sector and any professional background. Awardees are chosen on the merits of their leadership as it pertains to their contributions to the life sciences sector.

Tickets, sponsorship opportunities and full event details for the LSO Annual Awards Gala are available on LSO’s website:


Life Sciences Ontario is a member-driven organization that represents and promotes the province’s vibrant and diverse life sciences sector. LSO collaborates with governments, academia, industry, and other life science organizations in Ontario and across Canada to promote and encourage commercial success throughout the sector. Membership in Life Sciences Ontario includes individuals, students, emerging companies, investors, service providers, and companies with marketed products. The organization provides a wide range of networking and educational events, and operates a mentorship program that is helping to develop highly-skilled talent and build new business opportunities for the life sciences sector. LSO is an effective conduit for delivering policy options to governments, and is dedicated to promoting Ontario’s life sciences sector internationally.

How you can support LSO’s advocacy efforts:

Melissa Hughes, Communications Manager
Life Sciences Ontario