University of Calgary

Research matchmaking

UToday HomeApril 4, 2012

Christine Gillies (L) matched Kelsey Collins to a research internship with a biomedical start-up. Photo by Riley BrandtChristine Gillies (L) matched Kelsey Collins to a research internship with a biomedical start-up. Photo by Riley BrandtChristine Gillies smiles when she is called a matchmaker, but she acknowledges the analogy is fitting.

Twice an alumnae of the University of Calgary, Gillies is back on campus helping graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and their faculty supervisors. She is director of Business Development for Mitacs, a national not-for-profit that offers research internship programs.

“My role is to create links between professors, including their graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, to industry partners. I bring research opportunities to industry and industry opportunities to researchers,” says Gillies.

Kelsey Collins, first-year Masters student in the Running Injury Clinic, is one of Gillies’ recent matches. Collins is working on a validation and reliability study in partnership with Orpyx, a biomedical start-up in Calgary.

“Orpyx has developed a product that is intended to provide real time feedback from pressure sensing insoles for type II diabetic patients. Before the insoles can go to clinical trial in that population, they must be evaluated for measurement accuracy and day-to-day reliability—which is where I come in,” says Collins.

From Collins’ perspective, the benefits of this sort of research partnership are substantial. She feels that the graduate student, the research group and the industry partner all learn from each other and gain insights into each others’ roles in the continuum of the theoretical to the applied.

“I have been exposed to product development and industry-academy partnerships, which supplements the strong research background I am getting from the Kinesiology Graduate Group and the collaborative efforts of the Running Injury Clinic,” says Collins.

“As a student, that is an invaluable experience. Mitacs provides an opportunity for students to receive a well-rounded background and be better prepared for life after graduate school, whether that be industry, academia or industry related work in an academic setting.”

Gillies can be reached at cgillies@mitacs.ca for more information, including her office hours on campus.