Angels Den 2021

On November 18, six teams of St. Michael’s Hospital’s all-star scientists battled it out on Angels Den for a chance to win prizes totaling $500,000. They pitched their breakthrough projects to three celebrity judges, a panel of over 60 jurors and an online audience of thousands. Their aim? To change the game of today’s toughest health challenges.

If you haven’t seen Angels Den 2021, and you want to see some great science, watch it here. If you want to find out who the winners were, scroll down. Voting is now closed.

Congratulations to our 2021 Winners

Keenan Award for Medical Discovery Winner


The 10-Second Cancer Diagnosis

Dr. Howard Ginsberg
Neurosurgeon Investigator and Spine Program Director, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Arash Zarrine-Afsar
Affiliate Scientist and Biochemist, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science, St. Michael’s Hospital

THE CHALLENGE: Getting an accurate cancer diagnosis can take days in pathology. That means surgeons can’t make treatment decision on the spot, and patients wait anxiously to find out whether they have cancer – and just how serious it is.

THE SOLUTION: Neurosurgeon and biomedical engineer Dr. Howard Ginsberg and scientist Dr. Arash Zarrine-Afsar are developing a rapid tumour diagnostic system that tells surgeons in 10 seconds whether the tumour is in fact cancer, and if so, what type it is.

Odette Award for Health System Innovation Winner


Remote Brain Surgery: No Travel Required

Dr. Vitor Pereira
Neurosurgeon Scientist, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Julian Spears
Head of Neurosurgery and Neurosurgeon Investigator, St. Michael’s Hospital

THE CHALLENGE: Stroke and heart disease are a major cause of death among Canadians. Every second a blood vessel is blocked, millions of heart and brain cells die. So intervening fast is crucial. But many people don’t live close enough to a medical centre to get the immediate treatment they need.

THE SOLUTION: Using robotic technology, neurosurgeons Dr. Vitor Pereira and Dr. Julian Spears have performed minimally invasive surgery for stroke patients who aren’t in the same room. Now they’re getting ready to test the technology nationwide, so that one day patients hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest experts will have access to life-saving surgery.

Canada Life People’s Choice Award Winner


Supercharged Stem Cells: When Bones Don't Heal

Dr. Aaron Nauth
Orthopedic Surgeon Scientist, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science, St. Michael's Hospital

Ikran Ali
PhD Candidate and Researcher, St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto

THE CHALLENGE: Not all broken bones heal on their own, leaving patients with debilitating pain and disability.

THE SOLUTION: Orthopedic surgeon and fracture specialist Dr. Aaron Nauth and researcher Ikran Ali have discovered how to dramatically improve fracture healing by injecting supercharged stem cells into the bones. The dream is to give patients back a life that's pain-free and fully independent.

Keenan Award For Medical Discovery Teams

Transforming scientific discoveries in novel therapies, better diagnostics, vaccines or medical devices that will improve patients’ lives.


The 10-Second Cancer Diagnosis

Dr. Howard Ginsberg
Neurosurgeon Investigator and Spine Program Director, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Arash Zarrine-Afsar
Affiliate Scientist and Biochemist, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science, St. Michael’s Hospital

THE CHALLENGE: Getting an accurate cancer diagnosis can take days in pathology. That means surgeons can’t make treatment decision on the spot, and patients wait anxiously to find out whether they have cancer – and just how serious it is.

THE SOLUTION: Neurosurgeon and biomedical engineer Dr. Howard Ginsberg and scientist Dr. Arash Zarrine-Afsar are developing a rapid tumour diagnostic system that tells surgeons in 10 seconds whether the tumour is in fact cancer, and if so, what type it is.


Supercharged Stem Cells: When Bones Don't Heal

Dr. Aaron Nauth
Orthopedic Surgeon Scientist, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science, St. Michael's Hospital

Ikran Ali
PhD Candidate and Researcher, St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto

THE CHALLENGE: Not all broken bones heal on their own, leaving patients with debilitating pain and disability.

THE SOLUTION: Orthopedic surgeon and fracture specialist Dr. Aaron Nauth and researcher Ikran Ali have discovered how to dramatically improve fracture healing by injecting supercharged stem cells into the bones. The dream is to give patients back a life that's pain-free and fully independent.


It's Personal: Cancer Treatment Designed Just for You

Dr. Rola Saleeb
Pathologist, Clinician Investigator, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Sunit Das
Neurosurgeon Scientist, St. Michael’s Hospital

THE CHALLENGE: Genetic testing is key to getting the right treatment for brain cancers. But not only is it costly, it can take weeks to find out which treatment is right for each patient.

THE SOLUTION: Pathologist Dr. Rola Saleeb and neurosurgeon Dr. Sunit Das are working on a faster genetic test for cancer using next-generation sequencers and genome engineering. It's a technology that can be made available to every hospital. That’s personalized diagnostics, at a fraction of the cost.

Odette Award for Health System Innovation Teams

Improving our health-care system by increasing effectiveness, efficiency, equitability, or sustainability.


Treating Kids Where They Are: Mental Health in Schools

Dr. Sloane Freeman 
Pediatrician, Clinician Investigator, MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Justine Cohen-Silver
Pediatrician, Clinician Investigator, MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, St. Michael's Hospital

THE CHALLENGE: The COVID-19 pandemic has hit children’s learning, health and emotional well-being hard – particularly those living in disadvantaged communities. 

THE SOLUTION: Not all children go to the doctor. But they do go to school. St. Michael’s is already delivering medical care to thousands of at-risk students in schools – who otherwise wouldn’t get the treatments they need. Now pediatricians and scientists Dr. Sloane Freeman and Dr. Justine Cohen-Silver want to integrate mental health help into the model, so these kids get the access to care they deserve.


Trauma Patients: Blood Where and When You Need It

Dr. Brodie Nolan
Emergency Trauma Physician, Clinician Scientist, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Katerina Pavenski
Hematologist, Medical Director of Patient Blood Management, St. Michael’s Hospital

THE CHALLENGE: When a trauma victim is in urgent need of a blood transfusion, their chance of dying increases five percent for every minute that passes. But most Canadian ambulances and trauma centres don’t have immediate access to the right blood products.

THE SOLUTION: Dr. Brodie Nolan, an emergency and transport medicine physician, and Dr. Katerina Pavenski, a transfusion medicine specialist, invented a blood transfusion predictor that paramedics can use en route to hospital – so the right life-saving blood products are waiting when patients arrive.


Remote Brain Surgery: No Travel Required

Dr. Vitor Pereira
Neurosurgeon Scientist, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Julian Spears
Head of Neurosurgery and Neurosurgeon Investigator, St. Michael’s Hospital

THE CHALLENGE: Stroke and heart disease are a major cause of death among Canadians. Every second a blood vessel is blocked, millions of heart and brain cells die. So intervening fast is crucial. But many people don’t live close enough to a medical centre to get the immediate treatment they need.

THE SOLUTION: Using robotic technology, neurosurgeons Dr. Vitor Pereira and Dr. Julian Spears have performed minimally invasive surgery for stroke patients who aren’t in the same room. Now they’re getting ready to test the technology nationwide, so that one day patients hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest experts will have access to life-saving surgery.

Meet our Judges and Emcee


Joe Mimran

Joe Mimran is a retail, fashion and business pioneer who has helped build some of Canada’s most recognized apparel and lifestyle brands such as Joe Fresh, Club Monaco, Gry Mattr, Pink Tartan, Alfred Sung and Caban. Joe is also chairman of Gibraltar & Co., a venture capital firm, is on the board of Canopy Rivers and LXR, and through his consulting firms, JM+A and NYBS, provides design and consulting services to major retailers in the U.S. such as Kroger and Staples.

From 2015 to 2018 Joe starred as a Dragon on CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den. Joe was the honorary chairman of the inaugural Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, and the recipient of the Canadian Style Award. He has been recognized with The Design Exchange award along with his wife, Kimberley Newport-Mimran, the co-founder of Pink Tartan. Joe has recently been inducted into Canada’s Marketing Legends Hall of Fame. 

He’s been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The Globe and Mail. A patron of the arts, Mimran’s philanthropic activities include support of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and is a Luminaire for Luminato Arts Festival. He also supports Reena, a non-profit organization which promotes independence and community inclusion for people with developmental disabilities.


Tracy Moore

Tracy Moore is the award-winning host of Cityline on Citytv. With her ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, Tracy has also produced and hosted one of Apple podcasts Best Series of 2020 – Cityline Real on Race. She has also co-produced and co-hosted the special: Ending Racism: What Will it Take? and spearheads regular conversations on Cityline to raise awareness and inclusivity of people who live at intersectional margins. Tracy is most proud of the volunteer work she does with Toronto charity Trust 15 and the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.


Samantha Yammine

Samantha Yammine is a neuroscientist and popular Science Communicator better known as Science Sam. She earned her PhD from the University of Toronto studying how stem cells build and maintain the brain, and then went on to found Science Sam Media, a science-based digital production agency.

She is passionate about empowering people to explore science by making it more familiar, accessible, and inclusive. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she's been sharing the science behind the headlines as @science.sam on Instagram  and Tik Tok, garnering millions of views every month to better help people assess risk, spot misinformation, and have informed discussions with their friends and family.

She has been a guest Science Correspondent for a variety of shows on Netflix, TVO Kids, CBC GEM, Discovery UK, CBC Radio, and AsapSCIENCE. She sits on the Board of Trustees for RCIScience and the Editorial Board of the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers. 


Maureen Holloway - Emcee

Toronto radio fan favourite Maureen Holloway is familiar to listeners across the country as host of the popular entertainment feature Other People’s Business. In 2018, she was given the Rosalie Award, honouring Canadian women in broadcasting who have blazed new trails. She is a vocal advocate for women’s health and social issues.

Thank You To Our Sponsors

Top Prize Sponsors

People's Choice Award Sponsor

Show Sponsor


Registration Sponsor

TEAM BIOGRAPHIES

Where Are They Now Sponsor


Team Award Sponsors


Corporate Jurors

Angels Den Jurors


Laura Arrell
Lloyd & Marie Barbara
John & Jocelyn Barford
Greg & Susannah Belton
John Cassaday
Tony Cesta
Jessica Clark Barrow
Scott Collins
Brent Currie
Jennifer DeCaria
Richard Downe
Senator the Honourable Nicole Eaton
Michael Flux
Matthew Gaasenbeek
Bev Godden
Tim Griffin
Doug Guzman
Rosemary Hall
Andrew Hallisey
Richard Harvey
Sharon Haward-Laird
Catherine Herring
Tim Hill
John Hunkin & Susan Crocker
Colleen Johnston
Barbara Keenan
Sean Keenan
Imran Khamis
Elaine Kierans
David Kutas
Pat Lace
Anthony & Gay Longo

John MacIntyre
John Manning
Joe Mazzocco
John McCartney
James McPhedran
Lisa Melchior
Alexandra & David Melo
Pat Meneley
Alayne & Ron Metrick
Bob Millar
Marilyn Millar
Bruce Mitchell
Terry Mocherniak
Mary Mullen
Rayla Myhal
Lou Odette
Marc Odette
Iseo Pasquali
David Peterson
Tim Prescott
Robert & Sarah Price
Thomas Reid
Antonio Rodrigues
Krista Scaldwell
Christina Sharma
David Simmonds
Harcharan Singh
Kate Stevenson
Daniel Sullivan
Frank Techar
Vickie Turnbull
Peter & Louise Walter
Van Zorbas

Thank You To Our Cabinet


Gwen Harvey, Co-Chair
Melissa Martin, Co-Chair
Nancy Abbey
Catherine Bradley
Jill Burgin

Dr. Erica Conte
Jennifer DeCaria
John McCartney
Wes McComb
James McPhedran

Mary Mullen
Sherri Neldner
Dr. Ori Rotstein

Contact Us