Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Dr. Heyne’s research focuses on photochemistry and photobiology with an emphasis on the production and detection of singlet oxygen. Her research incorporates nanotechnology, and is highly multidisciplinary encompassing synthesis to cell culture, with an aim to understand and control the production of reactive oxygen species in biological environments.
Based on the current antimicrobial strategy, it is estimated by 2050, close to ten million people will die from an infection each year. With limited innovation in the disinfectant marketplace since the 1960’s, Dr. Heyne’s research has inherent commercial potential in health care and other commercial industries, by offering an innovative solution to combatting antibiotic resistant microbes by using engineered light-activated disinfectant that kills microorganisms on contact.
Dr. Heyne is the CEO and one of three co-founders of hnu Materials Inc., a Calgary start-up offering Advanced Wound Care solutions to support the health care industry. Using nanotechnology, they have developed a safe and non-corrosive solution to eradicate infections.
Dr. Heyne and her colleagues developed a nanomaterial derived from cellulose (paper) that is activated through ambient light to produce reactive oxygen species resulting in a strong bacterial effect. The nanomaterial can be combined to water to create a water-based disinfectant. A provisional patent has been issued for, both, the process to make the nanomaterial and its efficacy towards several microbial populations. This technology is truly disruptive as there are no other market comparators at this time in North America.
Participating in the Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies (CDL) program provided Dr. Heyne access to business expertise and mentors who evaluated the technology and assisted with introductions to key contacts in industries requiring disinfection. Through the CDL program, extensive market research was conducted to help narrow the focus for product application to the health care industry, with a focus on wound healing. Furthermore, conversations with the Ward of the 21st Century (W21C) and the IMPACT Clinical Trials Program have garnered wide-spread support for the project. Before the product can be approved for clinical trials, meetings with Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are important milestones to obtaining regulatory approval for this technology.
Dr. Heyne is passionate about building an entrepreneurial culture among students in the Chemistry Department. She plans to develop a working lunch series for graduate students who have an interest in taking their research findings from the lab to commercial application. Using a business approach, chemistry students will learn how to evaluate their project and create a complete business plan that will result in students being able to successfully pitch their ideas to potential investors. Dr. Heyne intends to invite highly qualified personnel (HQP) to provide guidance, feedback and mentorship to the chemistry students throughout the process.
I became a scientist to transform creativity into problem solving, along the way I discovered how entrepreneurship can translate research from successful to impactful... As an Innovation Fellow, my goal is to enrich our students’ learning experience by encouraging them to embrace an entrepreneurial thinking mindset and inspire more women to become innovative leaders.
Dr. Belinda Heyne, PhD