Student start-ups: Research Stream bridges gap between researchers & participants

Two Queen’s students discuss their start-up

Student entrepreneurs Luc Pelletier, Kin ’19, and Brooke Resendes, CompSci ’19, want to pave the way for medical advances vital for the future of healthcare. 

By founding and running the web platform Research Stream, which connects researchers with interested participants for human subject research, they’re on the road to doing just that. 

According to Pelletier, human subject research is any sort of research done on humans, ranging from psychology studies that monitor the brain during puzzle-solving, to clinical trials that test new drugs and medical devices. 

Research Stream simplifies the communication between researchers and participants by allowing users to create an online account, browse through a list of studies, and contact researchers directly if they’re interested in being participants. Through streamlining this process, the platform alleviates the strain of finding interested participants and hitting study recruitment goals, allowing everyone involved to direct their focus on advancing science and improving lives.  

“[Users] can click on different studies and learn about all the information that they would want to know before participating,” Resendes told The Journal in an interview. “[This] is something that you unfortunately don’t get to see often in the traditional methods, like fliers [and] bulletin boards.”

Pelletier recognized the need for a platform like Research Stream while working in healthcare information technology for the Ottawa Heart Institute. During his time there, he noticed nurses and researchers were having a difficult time finding subjects for their studies. This strain affected their ability to push the pace in terms of science and medical advances important for healthcare. 

“I just found [it] really odd that at this world-class institution, they were having such difficulties finding subjects,” Pelletier said. “This stuck in the back of my head—this [is] a huge problem, [yet] most people [haven’t] heard of it.” 

When Pelletier met Resendes this past summer at the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QISCI)—a four-month program providing its successful applicants funding and mentorship for entrepreneurial ventures—he saw the potential benefits of a partnership. Boasting a background in computer science and product development, Resendes had the skills necessary to bring Pelletier’s idea to life. Together, they could find an effective solution to the widespread lack of research subjects. 

After the platform’s initial conception, the team reached out to potentially interested parties in the greater Kingston area. 

“The more we talk[ed] to people, [the more] it lit the fire to keep going,” Resendes said. “We saw that this [is] a real problem that can be solved.” 

Since establishing Research Stream in the QICSI program, Pelletier and Resendes have continued to work and run the platform amidst their hectic academic and extracurricular schedules. Realizing the necessity for a platform like Research Stream, they’ve also both committed to working on the venture full-time after graduation.  

Moving forward, the duo plans to make Research Stream “bigger and better” by implementing refined search algorithms, offering researchers insight and giving study leaders the option to directly message potential participants. 

They also want to test their platform with disease populations, allowing people who have a personal stake in certain medical advancements to participate in necessary clinical trials.   

“Something that we’ve realized [while] making this is people participate in research for different reasons,” Resendes said. “What we’re trying to do is cater to all those different motivations. So, everyone from people who are part of a specific disease population, to the average student who’s participating in studies just trying to make an extra couple bucks.” 

By making the whole process easier for those new to participating in research, Pelletier also hopes Research Stream will highlight the importance of giving back to science. 

“Medical advancements don’t happen on their own,” Pelletier said. “Almost everyone’s donated to some cause or some research at [one] point, but a lot of people haven’t necessarily gotten involved in donating their time to science. I highly recommend it.”

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