SFU, Surrey Memorial poised to become medical technology leaders

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WEB-Ryan Darcy-Vaikunthe Banerjee

Newly appointed BC Leadership Chair will work with SFU, Surrey Memorial, Fraser Health

By Alison Roach
Photos by Vaikunthe Banerjee

The appointment of Dr. Ryan D’Arcy to the BC Leadership Chair was announced last Tuesday at SFU Surrey, along with the launch of a $5.25 million Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation BC Leadership Chair in Multimodal Technology for Healthcare Innovation.

The Leadership Chair will link SFU’s Faculty of Applied Sciences, Surrey Memorial, and Fraser Health, in a project that will aim to improve the lives of patients through innovation by combining the institutions’ various expertise in research, technology, and clinical experience.

The Chair position is a product of a partnership with the government’s Leading Edge Endowment Fund, which has given $2.25 million, and SFU and Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation, each contributing $1.5 million. Lab space is being developed by Fraser Health Authority to house the Chair position, combined with access to clinical facilities and research at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

In an interview with The Peak, D’Arcy emphasized that he is looking forward to working in Surrey, with the potential for innovation there. “I think what’s going on in Surrey is remarkable,” D’Arcy said. “All of this is going to come together to do research that helps patients, that’s very patient oriented, and focused on improving the outcomes of patients.”

SFU president Andrew Petter was in attendance at the announcement Tuesday morning, and commented in a news release, “The support of the province’s Leading Edge Endowment Fund has enabled SFU to forge a unique partnership with Surrey memorial Hospital Foundation, and to bring a world-class innovator in medical technologies to BC.”

A BC native, D’Arcy specializes in brain imaging, brain disease and disorders, and medical technologies. D’Arcy previously worked for 10 years as a neuroscientist at the Institute for Biodiagnostics in Halifax, an internationally known lab that he helped to establish. There, he worked to take neuroimaging and medical imaging and embed it into the main hospitals in Halifax, as well as teach medical students about imaging in a hospital environment.

The Institute also worked on advanced MRI technology and encephalography, which involves monitoring brains waves using their electrical or magnetic signatures. “We would then use these to look at better ways to advance neurologic diagnosis [for] brain diseases and disorders like ones that many people know of; strokes, alzheimer’s, that sort of thing,” explained D’Arcy.

This work led D’Arcy to develop devices that could be taken outside the hospital environment in order to treat brain injury in the sites where it occurs, such as hockey rinks, football fields, and ski hills. “If you’re in those hockey rinks right now, for your heart you’ll see AEDs — Automatic External Defibrillators — and that of course brings the technology to the site where the patients need it. I think the same should be true for the brain. If you have a problem with your brain, you should have technology there to help you right away.”

“The drive is going to start out of this partnership [between] Simon Fraser and Surrey Memorial,” he continued, “The goal is to make it an international leader. I was just in a meeting where everyone agrees we’re not here to win the provincials, we’re here to win the Olympics.”

The project will also give a select group of SFU students the opportunity to work with D’Arcy in medical technology labs at Surrey Memorial, as well as at the university analyzing medical imaging data.

The main goal of the research remains focused on improving care and treatment for patients with brain injury and brain conditions. “The work I’ve done isn’t cure for the disease,” said D’Arcy, “It’s using medical technology to help patients now.”

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