Meet two Queen’s grads on a mission to shake up the medical industry and grow Kingston’s reputation as a medical research powerhouse: Brooke Resendes and Luc Pelletier’s startup Research Stream helps hospitals and research institutions find people for research studies.
Research Stream is a web platform that makes signing up for clinical studies more easy, cost-effective, accessible, and private than traditional methods such as flyers and public advertisements.
During her time as a computer science student, Resendes had previously worked on another healthcare digitization startup. The experience creating an app that connects clinical psychologists with their patients gave her an introduction to the healthcare industry, and she said that meeting Pelletier at the 2018 Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) “introduced me to this whole other slew of healthcare problems that can be solved with technology.”
As a recent Kinesiology grad who spent his summers working at the Ottawa Heart Institute, Pelletier noticed that the organization was constantly seeking people to participate in studies, and later realized the problem was widespread — not only throughout that hospital, but across many hospitals and research institutions throughout Canada.
Resendes and Pelletier spoke with over 75 Ontario researchers and discovered that up to 80 per cent of clinical trials were cancelled or prolonged for years due to lack of participants. They found that researchers are currently spending thousands of dollars on bulletin board flyers, bus advertisements, TV commercials, and similar analogue methods with little success.
“In such a connected world where everything’s on the internet. people are out there looking for studies, but the studies just aren’t in an accessible place for them to find,” Resendes explained.
Researchers post their study information on Research Stream where participants can log on, see all the available studies, and choose which ones they would like to participate in.
“This makes research studies more accessible, but also allows people more privacy,” said Resendes.
According to Resendes, many people they spoke to who are looking to get involved in research studies are part of a specific disease population.
“The worst thing about flyers on bulletin boards is having to go up to a board in a crowded space. Research Stream is a more discreet and private way of getting involved in research studies than ripping off a tag on a flyer in a public space,” Resendes explained.
The Queen’s Innovation Centre provided Research Stream with $4,000 in start up money, and the duo has raised an additional $7,000 from pitch competitions. Resendes attended the Thursday, Jun. 20, 2019 Awesome Kingston pitch party with hopes of receiving the $1,000 no-strings-attached microgrant that the Awesome Foundation gives away each month to help “get local ideas off the ground to keep Kingston awesome.” While Research Stream didn’t win, Resendes said “the positive feedback from everyone in the audience and people coming up to me in total support of this platform was even more important.”
Resendes expressed gratitude for the Kingston community’s support and ability to “attract some of the brightest researchers in Canada.” She said that Research Stream’s immediate goals were focused on “really honing in on the City of Kingston and making sure that we’re putting Kingston on the map in terms of research.”
“Kingston is such a great place to come up with innovative ideas because the community here is so in favor of that. They want to see Kingston succeed and excel,” Resendes said.
According to Resendes, Kingston was well on its way to becoming the epicenter of medical research in Ontario.
“Kingston is a place where amazing research is happening,” Resendes said, “and we have 177,000 people here who can volunteer their time to science.”
“Every drug, every medicine, your glasses prescription: they came to market because people participated in studies,” she continued. “You know all these things that today we couldn’t live without? Well, there are those things coming in the future. We just need to participate in studies.”
To learn more about Research Stream and their mission to get the community actively involved in creating positive change in the medical community, visit their website at https://researchstream.ca.