The Stroke Doc is a high-stakes medical drama that takes place in the back of screaming ambulances, in hospital corridors and emergency wards around the world, taking us from Muskoka to Manila, where success is measured by nearly imperceptible changes on an MRI, scrutinized in the middle of the night. And where failure could very well mean the loss of decades of research and tens of millions of dollars. Not to mention setting back the science of stroke drug research yet again.
Is Dr. Tymianski’s drug just another in a long line of failed stroke drugs? Or is he actually on the cusp of the biggest Canadian medical innovation since the discovery of insulin?
Dr. Michael Tymianski
CM, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FAHA
President and CEO, NoNO Inc.
Dr. Michael Tymianski is a world-renowned neurosurgeon, neuroscientist and entrepreneur. In 2003, he founded NoNO Inc., a private company with a single-minded focus to protecting patients against the worst effects of stroke. Nearly two decades later, Dr. Tymianski has led one of Canada’s best biotechnology teams through successful phase 1, 2 and 3 trials, and is currently conducting two further phase 3 trials to establish whether the drug he pioneered, nerinetide, can safely and effectively, mitigate the damage caused by stroke in humans.
In addition to heading up NoNO, Dr. Tymianski was also the Head of the Division of Neurosurgery at the University Health Network in Toronto and is a Professor of Surgery and Physiology at the University of Toronto, providing the company with unique academic, preclinical and clinical expertise. He is a Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Translational Stroke Research. Dr. Tymianski was invested into the Order of Canada in January 2018.
The Journey of a Documentary
This documentary followed the last phase of the human drug testing, a near decade long odyssey, of trial and error, of starts and stops, of pivots and perfections, of losses and gains.
Accompanying Dr. Tymianski on the final leg of this long journey were dozens of different directors, story editors and editors, each passing a chapter like a baton to the next, until finally the documentary made it over the finish line. There from start to finish was filmmaker Stuart Coxe, who, in the end, became the voice of a story, since he knew it so well. Documentaries are always fraught projects that often suffer their own pivots and setbacks, and this project was no different. What was supposed to take a year to tell, stretched into nine (and there is still another chapter to write!)
Interview with the Filmmaker,
President, Antica Productions
Stuart Coxe has been a journalist, filmmaker and producer for the past 30 years. Recent credits include executive producing "Captive" (Yorkton Grand Prize Winner, 2021) and "Spirit to Soar" (Hot Docs Audience Award Winner, 2021). He also produced "Secret Path", "Secret Path in Concert" and "Finding the Secret Path," the last three film projects of Gord Downie. Earlier in his career, he was executive producer of CBC's The National, and he started and ran "Dragons' Den" on CBC for its first 3 seasons. His company, Antica Productions, is now one of North America's largest podcast studios.