2012 Winner: Leaders of Tomorrow sponsored by Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education
Ambitious Scientist Follows Her Dreams
Dr. Breanne Everett has been following her scientific dreams since she was a Grade 5 student building science fair projects.
“Through that process, I became interested in experimentation and asking and answering scientific questions.”
Discovering Her Passion
By the time she was leaving high school Dr. Everett knew she would do clinical research as a career, and studied biochemistry at McGill University. Although she excelled academically, her heart was not in it. She learned being happy is the most important consideration in any new project she might undertake.
“It is critical that you engage in the things you love to do,” she says. “We only have a finite amount of time on this planet to achieve our dreams.”
She came to Calgary to complete Medical School and her residency in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Calgary. During her residency Dr. Everett became interested in finding a treatment for diabetic foot ulcers, a devastating complication of diabetes, which occurs in more than 15 per cent of all diabetic patients over the course of their disease. Vascular and nerve-related complications, including lack of sensory feedback in the feet and failure of the wound healing process, leaves the diabetic patient unaware that serious complications are developing.
Growing the Company
The concept of pairing diabetic foot care and neuroplasticity to develop new prevention practices led Dr. Everett to take a leave of absence from her residency in 2011 to co-found Orpyx Medical Technologies. Her vision for Orpyx is that in five years, it will be the world leader in delivering sensor-based products and sensory substitution systems that allow people to better cope with disease, and improve overall quality of life.
Under Dr. Everett’s leadership, Orpyx is on track to commercialize its first device, the SurroSense Rx, by late 2012. The company already has three full-time- and four part-time employees, and will continue hiring as it grows.
At the same time, Dr. Everett is completing an Executive MBA through the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary because she wants to complement her background in medical technology with more business acumen to help Orpyx achieve its vision.
Although her demanding schedule would be gruelling for many people, but not for Dr. Everett.
“It’s pretty easy to keep a busy schedule when you love what you do,” Dr. Everett says. “I’ve surrounded myself with people I find motivating.” That includes the people working at Orpyx. “They have amazing drive and that helps carry my motivation.”
As a medical professional, Dr. Everett says she is compelled to address the pressures the medical system faces as the population grows and ages. And as a business person, she hopes to contribute to the Alberta economy.
“It’s important that the province’s researchers devote their energy and resources to technology development outside the oil and gas sphere to help Alberta maintain economic diversity,” she says. “I hope that with our company and our innovations, we will play a part in strengthening the economy by pushing health care technology forward.”