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LSO Breakfast Series: Ontario needs a rare disease strategy!

FebruaryFeb 16 2023 08:15am - 09:45am

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Ontario needs a rare disease strategy! Learnings from leading jurisdictions on how investing in rare disease drives health and economic benefits

LSO Knowledge and Networking Breakfast

February 16th: 8:15am - 9:45am EST

Virtual Option Available - in-person location 

Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute (**masks must be worn when entering the building and anywhere outside of the meeting room**)
209 Victoria Street, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5B 1T8



Ontario needs a rare disease strategy! Learnings from leading jurisdictions on how investing in rare disease drives health and economic benefits


We are entering a new era of medical research and advancement based on our understanding of the human genome and the genetic basis of disease. This offers huge potential for the millions of Canadians whose lives are impacted by rare diseases, most of which have a genetic cause. However, for patients to benefit from these new advancements, a concerted, integrated approach is required to allow our healthcare system to identify, adopt, and deliver new and emerging therapies and diagnostics. Quebec became the first province in Canada to announce a dedicated strategy for rare diseases on June 6, 2022.  Other jurisdictions, such as the UK, have also implemented such strategies. Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, and home to the largest life science cluster, has an opportunity to embrace the new era of science and healthcare for the benefit of both patients and our economic development. Having an integrated strategy for managing rare diseases in the province will provide better access to diagnosis and care for patients while building our life sciences sector as a vital pillar of a prosperous and growing economy.


Representatives from Quebec, the federal government, and the UK will share their insights on their respective rare disease initiatives, followed by a panel discussion including patient and industry representatives from Ontario.


  • Jason Field, President and CEO, Life Sciences Ontario
  • Alastair Kent, Chair of the UK Rare Disease Forum
  • Daniel MacDonald, Director General, Drugs for Rare Diseases, Health Canada
  • Farah Bendahmane, Senior Director, Strategic Development and Partnerships, Montreal InVivo
  • Christine Mossa, Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, Public Affairs, Value & Access, Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals Canada
  • Durhane Wong-Rieger, President & CEO, CORD


Event Sponsored by:



Life Sciences Talent Accelerator Program

Together with many partners, BioTalent Canada is leading the development of the LifeSciences Talent Accelerator (LifeSciencesTA) program to create industry-ready new talent for Ontario’s Life Sciences industry. The LifeSciencesTA is being funded by Ontario’s  Ministry of Colleges and Universities and BioTalent Canada is partnering with Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly known as Ryerson), Sheridan College, Life Sciences Ontario and the Mississauga Board of Trade for the development and delivery of the program.

After receiving valuable feedback from 45 survey respondents including mostly senior-level professionals, we have been able to better understand the areas most important to the industry and the LifeSciencesTA learning modules have been defined, please see below for your information.

The LifeSciencesTA is a virtual asset platform with activities to provide industry-specific exposure, training and experiential learning opportunities for program participants from diverse backgrounds. By establishing this link between new talent and industry, the program will provide an effective transition to employment in Ontario’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences sector for local new graduates, and provide value-add talent to this vital industry.



LSO’s Knowledge and Networking Breakfast Forum facilitates valuable professional development and networking opportunities. Issues impacting our industry are discussed and best practices are presented, providing an opportunity for community members to learn from each other. Events are held regularly (monthly or bi-monthly), and are subsidized by a modest registration fee. Breakfast is provided. LSO’s Breakfast Meetings are a long-standing tradition, with the first event being held in September 1989, when LSO was known as TBI (Toronto Biotechnology Initiative). Since then, our “Breakfast Meetings” have become a signature event for the organization and continue to be an important offering to LSO members and our broader life sciences community.

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