Keynote Speakers

Dr. Anna Blakney - Next-Generation RNA Vaccines and Therapies

RNA vaccines have enabled a rapid and effective response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are still major challenges in the field, including enhancing the duration of immunity and minimizing the side effects associated with these vaccines. We will address strategies to overcome these challenges, and explore future applications of RNA medicines.

Biography: Anna Blakney is an Assistant Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and School of Biomedical Engineering at UBC. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemical & Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Washington. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Imperial College London on the development of molecular and biomaterial engineering strategies for delivery of self-amplifying RNA. Her lab uses bioengineering, molecular biology and immunology approaches to develop the next generation of RNA vaccines and therapies.

Check out Anna Blakney’s profile on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Geoffrey Auchinleck - The Long and Winding Road: 40 Years of Device Development

The path to success with a new medical device is not a straightforward one.  From a start as a biomedical engineer at Vancouver General Hospital, Geof has brought about two dozen medical device products to market, some successful, some not so much.  The road t has been long, and bumpy and has delivered a lot of interesting lessons - not to mention many hugely rewarding experiences.

Biography: Geof has more than 35 years of experience in the medical device field. He was part of the Vancouver-based team that built and tested the world’s first robot specifically designed to assist in surgery, then went on to develop a number of other medical technologies, including tools for laparoscopic surgery, limb positioning, blood sample handling equipment, apparatus for total knee arthroplasty and surgical drapes.

In 1997, Geof co-founded Neoteric Technology Ltd. Neoteric developed and commercialized technologies for ensuring the correct storage, tracking, handling and administration of blood for transfusion in hospitals. After selling Neoteric to Haemonetics Corporation in 2009, Geof continued to work for Haemoentics until founding Claris Healthcare in 2012. Claris Healthcare provides a reliable, accessible platform for delivering care into the home. Claris products provide social (family) care (Claris Companion), chronic care (Claris Continuum) and acute care (Claris Reflex). 

Geof is very active in the Vancouver medical device community. He has served on the board of the Medical Device Development Centre for more than 25 years, 22 as Chair. He is also a Director of the AceTech Academy for Technology CEOs and an independent Director of several medical device startups. Geof holds 21 US patents for a wide range of medical devices and technologies. In 2012, he was awarded the Encana Principal Award by the Manning Innovation Awards Foundation, Canada’s highest award for industrial innovation, in recognition of his development of the BloodTrack transfusion system.

Check out Geoffrey Auchinleck’s profile on LinkedIn.

Thank you to IFBME for sponsoring Dr. Azadeh Yadollahi's keynote address. Their support has allowed us to hear from an accomplished scientist and advocate for gender equity in the field, and gain a deeper appreciation for the contribtion that women are making to STEM. IFBME's commitment to promoting equity and excellence in science and technology is greatly appreciated.

Dr. Azadeh Yadollahi - Diversity and Inclusion Gaps for Women in Engineering

Women have been under-represented in academia and particularly in Engineering. This under-representation is much bigger for women who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, persons of color, immigrant, LGBTQIA2S+, care providers, or living with disability. Unfortunately, these challenges were magnified by COVID and its lingering effects on women. This talk will cover the current status of diversity and inclusion of women in engineering, and what should be done to have a more diverse and inclusive environment.

Biography: Dr. Yadollahi holds a Canada Research Chair-Tier 2 in Cardio-Respiratory Engineering, is a Senior Scientist at the University Health Network’s KITE research institute (UHN-KITE), an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto's Institute of Biomedical Engineering, and an adjunct faculty at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Yadollahi is a strong advocate of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA), and chairs UHN Research’s IDEA committee. Her research aims to improve understanding of the pathophysiology of cardio-respiratory disorders during sleep, and to develop novel technologies for improved management of these disorders. She is particularly  interestedin developing innovative technologies for monitoring of physiological signals at home and implementing equitable and accessible technologies for under-represented individuals with chronic cardio-respiratory disorders. 

At UHN-KITE, Dr. Yadollahi leads the SleepdB laboratory. SleepdB is one of the few facilities in Canada dedicated to examining the intricate interplay between sleep, hemodynamics and cardio-respiratory disorders. SleepdB has gold standard clinical equipment to assess sleep and cardio-respiratory function. Moreover, through special infrastructure that enables full control of lighting and acoustics, SleepdB can realistically simulate home or in-hospital environments for technology development and validation. To date, Dr. Yadollahi has authored and co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts, presented over 100 times in scientific conferences, filed 3 patents, and been invited to give 60 talks on her research at prominent national and international academic institutions.

Check out Azadeh Yadollahi’s profile on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Matthew Baretich - Forty-five years as a clinical engineer, and just getting started.

Starting from graduation with an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering in 1977, Matt Baretich has been a clinical engineer for just over 45 years, which is nearly as long as clinical engineering has been a thing. What were the early days like? How has the profession changed? What have we learned along the way? What's next? Come see a few photos, sit through a few PowerPoint slides, and listen to some stories.

Biography: Matt Baretich is a clinical engineering advisor to Lower Mainland Biomedical Engineering in Vancouver, Britsh Columbia. He is also president of Baretich Engineering based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Providing clinical engineering and forensic engineering services. Dr. Baretich Certified Clinical Engineer, a Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk management, and a Certified Professional in Patient Safety. He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation and of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. Matt is a Founder, Past-President, and Fellow of the American College of Clinical Engineering and is in the ACCE Clinical Engineering Hall of Fame. He is a prolific writer and speaker and is an editorial board member Global Clinical Engineering Journal, NAFE Journal, 24x7 magazine, and ASHE publications.

Check out Matt's Website here.