SC's life sciences industry responds to the challenge of COVID-19 see more
I just completed a radio interview with SC Business Review, focused exclusively on the all-consuming and seismic topic of the Coronavirus – which is dramatically impacting all our lives. As I made clear to interviewer Mike Switzer, any relevance of me being interviewed as opposed to our scientists and clinicians is tied to the privilege that SCBIO has of serving as a voice and accurate storyteller for the 600+ life sciences companies and entities that proudly call the Palmetto State home.
And there are incredibly meaningful and encouraging stories to share in the midst of this very real public health crisis – regarding SC companies and institutions that will positively impact patients across the state and nation with innovative and creative approaches they are actively, and very rapidly, undertaking.
Just a few exemplary SC examples include:
- MUSC Health was the first in the nation to uniquely provide both direct, timely, and online access to Coronavirus screening via their virtual care platform coupled with a drive-through specimen collection site for patients with possible COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. This was done in partnership with the developers (newest SCBIO Member, Trademark Properties) of the dramatically redeveloped Citadel Mall Epic Center, which is now home to MUSC Health’s West Ashley Medical Pavilion – as they worked closely to secure immediate approvals for the location of the collection site in the mall parking lot. If you or someone you know needs to be screened, log on to www.musc.care and use COVID19 as the promo code. This is FREE for all South Carolinians.
- Nephron Pharmaceuticals, a major national supplier of respiratory therapy medications badly needed by patients suffering from COVID-19, is aggressively ramping up their ability to increase production of 90 million sterile doses per month of targeted drug therapies with an additional 32 million doses, as they work with the FDA to have 3 new aseptic filling lines approved and brought online quickly to meet skyrocketing demands they are experiencing.
- Vikor Scientific has specifically dedicated 2,000 sq. ft of their brand new 22,000 sq. ft. headquarters and CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited lab facilities at WestEdge for COVID-19 testing as soon as approval is received from the FDA. They are in fact preparing 100,000 test kits to be available for shipment to customers as soon as Wednesday of this week – and are working closely with the FDA for continued guidance on expediting the approval process.
On the national front, there are also some encouraging stories emerging, including the most rapid launch of a possible new vaccine on record.
Moderna has already begun its first coronavirus vaccine trial in Washington State (the nation’s worst hot spot at present) with volunteers at Kaiser Permanente Research Institute in Seattle. Over the next 2 months, volunteers ages 18-55 will get two doses of the trial vaccine (known as mRNA-1273). Dr. Fauci of the national Coronavirus Task Force has confirmed that this 65-day development is the fastest ever accomplished for a new vaccine of this magnitude. And while widespread utilization of a newly approved vaccine is still likely 12-18 months away, gratefully progress is on track to achieve that. Also noteworthy are other vaccines and targeted therapies concurrently in the pipeline, involving companies such as Pfizer, Regeneron and Sanofi.
Finally, on a very personal note, each of us and our extended families are being dramatically impacted by this global pandemic and are encouraged to do our parts in mitigating the spread of this fearsome and highly contagious virus. After an extended battle with metastatic lung cancer, my dad peacefully passed away this past weekend, and regrettably his funeral will have to be limited to a private family graveside service (with a future memorial service to be scheduled once the health crisis has subsided). In an interesting juxtaposition of life & death, my nephew’s wedding this weekend has been compressed to a small family rehearsal dinner combined with a quiet ceremony in conjunction with the dinner. I’m certain that there will be a multitude of other similar stories from most of you regarding how we grapple and deal with this unprecedented event with no clear endpoint at present.
While all of this will ultimately be in our “rear view mirrors” at some point in the future through the power and innovation of our industry, our researchers, and our heroic healthcare providers, life and business as we know it will have to be dramatically different in the weeks – and possibly months – ahead. Expect a more virtual experience with SCBIO for the near future, and look to hear from us more often via electronic means ranging from e-blasts to social media efforts to increased website postings to webinars. I am fully confident that all of our life & health sciences companies and leaders will respond valiantly, and that this will bring out the best in us – with creative and even transformative solutions and strategies that will enable us to maintain momentum in our vital missions. And we will learn a great deal and grow through this challenging process – as our strength is truly forged in fire…
We will update you on various developments around COVID-19 and beyond and encourage all of you to share your stories of hope and progress as we collectively battle this formidable foe. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our SCBIO team for any reason, and we are more grateful than ever for all of you.
Sam Konduros, CEO
Charleston, Vikor Scientific featured in national media see more
Empty hotel rooms, half-full offices, and shuttered retail. The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the most established commercial real estate asset classes, creating short-term financial crunches and raising long-term secular concerns as remote work is tested and e-commerce rates rise.
Other asset classes, once alternatives, have become institutional investing gold standard. Logistics assets such as warehouses are providing a punch to the portfolio of the world’s largest landlord, Blackstone.
As industrial real estate investing becomes more crowded, and many of the other large asset classes slump, attention is turning to life sciences real estate — or space that’s used by pharmaceutical and biotech companies for research, development, and even manufacturing of new diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines.
The life science industry had been growing rapidly before the pandemic, attracting $17.4 billion in venture capital funding in 2019, up 370% from $3.7 billion in 2008, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report. Funding has continued to pour into the sector, even as coronavirus has slowed down venture funding overall, creating demand for more lab space.
This week's South Carolina life sciences newsletter is hot off the press! see more
Enjoy this week's newsletter from SCBIO featuring updates on South Carolina's inaugural Women in Life Sciences initiatives... a report on MUSC's growing economic impact statewide... details on more Palmetto State organizations stepping up for the greater good... an update from EVP Erin Ford and much, much more... click here to read complete details!
First in nation treatment for MIS-C, COVID-19 complication, at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s HospitalMUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston on leading edge of treatment see more
When 4-year-old K.J. Griffin arrived at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, the normally bubbly boy who loves to ride his bike and play outside with his friends was frighteningly limp.
His mother was stunned and exhausted. The little boy she’d worried about for days as his fever spiked had already been to a hospital near their home in rural Smoaks. But the condition K.J. was suffering from was so new and rare that it went unrecognized.
So Talaiyah Stephens watched over her son at home, doing what she could to ease his symptoms but feeling helpless as he got sicker and sicker. “He didn’t want to talk. All he would do was sleep. He’d wake up, throw up, go to the bathroom, then lay back down and go to sleep. He would look at you like he was staring right through you.”
When K.J.’s fever rose to 105 degrees and wouldn’t come down, Stephens came to a decision. She would drive him to MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, about an hour and 15 minutes away. It was a choice that saved his life.
Dr. David Cole chronicled many MUSC achievements during the 2020 fiscal year see more
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Aug. 14, 2020) – Recently, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) Board of Trustees held their regularly scheduled combined committee sessions and board meeting. With its fiscal year-end closing on June 30, MUSC administrators focused on the multilayered impacts of the novel coronavirus on the operations of all three missions of the institution – education, research and patient care – along with MUSC’s leadership role across the community and state during this pandemic. To support established social distancing guidelines in the COVID-19 era, the MUSC trustees and administrators met via teleconference.
“The ripple effects of the pandemic continue to reach every area of our institution,” said MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS. “We are committed to battling this virus at every turn and continue to find innovative ways to deliver safe, top-quality education and patient care in the face of this challenge. In addition, we are engaged in ongoing research projects, many which, in collaboration with national networks, are designed to help define how to best treat and mitigate the impact of this virus.”
“Throughout the pandemic, MUSC Health has been recognized and called upon as an essential health care resource, having performed nearly 138,000 diagnostic screening tests, primarily through mobile testing sites in communities across the state,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., CEO of MUSC Health and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “In partnership with the state legislature, MUSC set up mobile screening and collection sites in rural and underserved areas in an intentional bid to reach those who are most vulnerable and too often underserved when it comes to health care. Reliable diagnostic and antibody testing remain key elements of managing this unprecedented statewide health challenge.”
Despite the hurdles posed by COVID-19, Cole chronicled many MUSC achievements during the 2020 fiscal year, including:
- The MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion opened in February.
- MUSC became the only institution in the country to house both a Digestive Disease Research Core Center and a Center for Biomedical Research Excellence in Digestive and Liver Disease.
- MUSC Health West Ashley Medical Pavilion opened as scheduled in December and served 10,418 patients in the first month, with 214 operative procedures.
- The South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute, one of about 60 Clinical and Translational Science Award hubs nationwide, was awarded a $24M five-year renewal.
- Safely held a series of virtual graduation celebrations, including a drive-through diploma pick-up event for its 660 graduates.
- Transitioned more than 3,000 students to online education in response to the novel coronavirus within 24 hours’ notice.
- MUSC was first in the nation to combine drive-through testing with a virtual screening platform for potential COVID-19 patients.
- MUSC and Clemson collaborated to launch the Healthy Me – Healthy SC program to increase health access and fight health disparities statewide. The program began expanding in early 2020 after successful pilots in Anderson, Barnwell and Williamsburg counties.
- MUSC, Clemson and Siemens Healthineers co-hosted a summit in Columbia about artificial intelligence (AI) to bring together faculty, clinicians and engineers. They shared information about current work, new opportunities and discussed the future of AI in health care. The pilot effort funded three joint AI projects with Clemson.
- U.S. News & World Report named MUSC the state’s best hospital for the fifth consecutive year.
- The inaugural 2019 Lowvelo Bike Ride for Cancer Research engaged more than 709 cyclists and 300 volunteers, raising some $650,000 to support MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.
- The U.S. Patent Office granted the MUSC Foundation for Research Development 18 patents.
- MUSC received $25 million from the General Assembly to partner with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina Hospital Association to develop and deploy a statewide testing plan. The focus of the plan is on rural and underserved areas of the state. More than 200 testing events/sites have been implemented.
- MUSC Health continues to support the reopening plan and testing strategy for the University of SC, College of Charleston, The Citadel and Clemson University.
The 16-member MUSC/MUHA board voted unanimously to elect James Lemon, DMD, as chairman and Charles W. Schulze, CPA, as vice chairman. Each will serve a two-year term. Lemon is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon by training. A native of Barnwell, he has lived in Columbia for more than three decades. Elected to the MUSC board in 2014, he serves as the medical professional representative from the 2nd Congressional District. Schulze, a Greenwood native, began his first term as an MUSC trustee in 2002 as the lay representative from the 3rd Congressional District. A retired shareholder of a regional accounting and consulting firm, Schulze currently practices and is an expert in financial forensics.
In other business, the board voted to approve:
- The fiscal year 2021 budgets for MUSC (University), the MUSC Health system and MUSC Physicians.
- Moving the spring commencement and graduation date from its originally scheduled date of May 22 to May 15, 2021.
- A seven-year lease to provide new clinical care space for the MUSC Neuro Rehabilitation Institute in Charleston.
- A supplemental HVAC system for the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Compounding Pharmacy.
- A lease renewal to provide 140 parking spaces at the intersection of Line Street and Hagood Avenue.
The MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees serves as separate bodies to govern the university and hospital, normally holding two days of committee and board meetings six times a year. For more information about the MUSC Board of Trustees, visit http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/leadership/board/index.html.
About The Medical University of South Carolina
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The state’s leader in obtaining biomedical research funds, in fiscal year 2019, MUSC set a new high, bringing in more than $284 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan, and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.
U.S. News & World Report releases annual national rankings see more
MUSC Health University Medical Center in Charleston was named by U.S. News & World Report for the sixth year in a row as the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina, with three of the MUSC Health, Charleston Division, specialty areas ranking among the best in the entire country: ear, nose and throat; gynecology; and cancer. Six other MUSC Health programs based in Charleston are considered “high performing” in the 2020-2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings: gastroenterology and GI surgery; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; orthopedics; rheumatology and urology. In addition, MUSC Health Florence Medical Center is designated “high performing” in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure, and MUSC Health Lancaster Medical Center is designated “high performing” in COPD and heart failure.
“These six consecutive years of recognition demonstrate that our teams remain committed to keeping the needs of patients as the focal points of what we deliver every day,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “With all the pressures bearing on the health care industry right now, especially during this pandemic, yet again earning this level of recognition as the leading health care organization in the Charleston area, the Lowcountry and the state engenders a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride in our teams’ abilities to change what’s possible for those we serve.”
The Best Hospitals 2020-2021 https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals report is designed to help patients with life-threatening or rare conditions identify hospitals that excel in treating the most difficult cases. The annual report includes consumer-friendly data and information on 4,500 medical centers nationwide in 16 specialties, 10 procedures and conditions. In the 16 specialty areas, 134 hospitals were ranked in at least one specialty. In rankings by state and metro area, U.S. News & World Report recognizes hospitals as high performing across multiple areas of care.
“It is particularly gratifying to see two of the newest hospitals within the MUSC Health system, in our Florence and Lancaster Divisions, recognized in this year’s report,” Cawley said. “Our teams statewide are engaged in delivering health care that is built on quality, safety and innovation at every level.” The Florence and Lancaster hospitals joined the MUSC Health system in March 2019 when MUSC Health acquired four community hospitals.
The U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals methodologies, in most areas of care, are based largely or entirely on objective measures such as risk-adjusted survival and readmission rates, volume, patient experience, patient safety and quality of nursing, among other care-related indicators.
“For more than 30 years, U.S. News & World Report has been helping patients, along with the help of their physicians, identify the Best Hospitals in an array of specialties, procedures and conditions,” said Ben Harder, managing editor and chief of health analysis at U.S. News. “The hospitals that rise to the top of our rankings and ratings have deep medical expertise, and each has built a track record of delivering good outcomes for patients.”
U.S. News & World Report produces its Best Hospitals rankings with RTI International, a leading research organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
Vikor Scientific featured in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville Business magazines see more
A number of South Carolina-based life sciences companies joined the battle against COVID-19 when the pandemic hit in early March. Prominent among this group is Charleston-based Vikor Scientific, a testing laboratory founded just over two years ago by entrepreneurs Shae Harrelson and Scotty Branch.
Vikor developed a COVID-19 test kit that is now widely used by nursing homes and other healthcare facilities across the nation. The test kit also tests for more than 40 other pathogens known to cause respiratory illness. Click to enjoy the entire article...
ZVerse and Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing step up for South Carolina see more
Two South Carolina companies -- ZVerse and Phoenix Specialty Manufacturing -- jumped into action to meet the needs of the response to the coronavirus, manufacturing vital pieces of equipment at a time when they were urgently needed and unlikely to be easily available for import.
In doing so, they played key roles as the country rushed to provide the medical supplies needed to protect the lives of the sick and their caregivers.
In Columbia, ZVerse began March as a company that helped manufacturers by creating more effective computer files for their production processes. It had the capability to do some 3D printing but did not usually do manufacturing.
Life sciences community at WestEdge is booming see more
The newest WestEdge building is in stark contrast to the former landfill it is built on.
The glass-exterior 22 WestEdge office and research structure rises with a gleam above the underground layers of trash.
Evoking modernity and progress in eight stories, the 125-foot-tall building is touted as the tallest multi-tenant office structure on the peninsula and in the Charleston region.
The 156,000-square-foot building recently opened with 78 percent of it leased in advance, closing out the first phase of the long-planned WestEdge development.
Only two floors remain unoccupied, but ready for build-out with piles of drywall, ceiling tiles, wall studs and other building supplies lying on the floor.
The ground floor houses retail and restaurant space with Rush Bowls restaurant now open and French cafe Saveurs Du Monde to follow soon. REV, formerly Heritage Trust, Federal Credit Union and The Smile Store/Charleston Orthodontics recently began serving clients, too, on the first level. Read on for the entire article...
New life sciences incubator opens in WestEdge in Charleston see more
The Charleston Digital Corridor, which offers space for startups and early stage companies, has opened a new incubator in the WestEdge development.
The organization partnered with the city of Charleston for the facility, which focuses primarily on life sciences and technology companies in the mixed-use development located in the medical district near the Ashley River.
Executive Director Ernest Andrade said Flagship – WestEdge, the fifth facility operated by the Digital Corridor, is 100% full with Anatta, BiblioLabs, DentureCare, Vendr, Vikor Scientific, and Zeriscope.
The Digital Corridor’s facilities aren’t traditional incubators where companies operate in isolation with low-cost commercial space.
The Digital Corridor uses month-to-month leases and designs its Flagship facilities to provide a setting for businesses to engage with one another. The Digital Corridor goes through an extensive application process to ensure a complementary mix of companies as well.
Mayor John Tecklenburg said the city’s WestEdge incubator was part of Charleston’s commitment to help knowledge economy companies, which generally offer wages above the state and national averages, grow in the region.
“Our investment in the Flagship – WestEdge business incubator is a tangible sign of the city’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurship and economic diversity while contributing to our citizens’ quality of life with high-wage technical and scientific jobs,” Tecklenburg said in a statement.
The Digital Corridor plans to move its headquarters next year to a six-story building on Morrison Drive called the Charleston Technology Center. The entire second floor, 18,000 square feet, will be dedicated to providing commercial space for small businesses and startups similar to Flagship – WestEdge. Construction began last year.
Veravas partners to develop test see more
True Diagnostics, Inc. (TrueDx), a leading Point of Care (POC) company, Infectolab Americas (Infectolab), a recently established CLIA laboratory specializing in comprehensive testing for tick-born infection, and Veravas, Inc. (Veravas), an emerging diagnostic company focusing on proprietary sample preparation products and new diagnostic tests, announced today their Strategic Alliance to develop and commercialize VeraTest™ SARS-CoV-2 IgA/IgG Rapid Test. This novel POC test will utilize the TrueDX Platform™, Infectolab's COVID-19 serology testing services and infectious disease expertise,and Veravas' patent pending VeraPrep™ clean and VeraPrep™ capture technologies to remove cross-reacting antibodies to other coronaviruses while only binding and detecting antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2. Serology testing makes population screening possible, including screening of people who were never diagnosed, either because they didn't feel particularly sick or they couldn't get an initial test. VeraTest™ SARS-CoV-2 IgA/IgG Rapid Test will play an important roll in understanding COVID-19 and the epidemiology of this coronavirus.
VeraTest™ SARS-CoV-2 IgA/IgG Rapid Test will provide a digital qualitative answer in less than 15 minutes to determine if antibodies against COVID-19 have been detected in the blood. IgM and IgA provide the first line of defense during viral infections, followed by the generation of adaptive, high-affinity IgG responses for long-term immunity and immunological memory. The detection of COVID-19 IgA antibodies tends to indicate a recent exposure to COVID-19 and is more specific for COVID-19 in lung tissues and mucosal surfaces, and detection of COVID-19 IgG antibodies indicates a later stage of infection, so this combined antibody test could also provide information on the stage of the disease in patients. Current guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that results from antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude coronavirus infection. Depending on the clinical scenario, additional testing, such as with VeraTest™ COVID-19 IgA/IgG Rapid Test, may be considered to further evaluate the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
"In these challenging times, True Diagnostics, Inc. is proud to be part of this alliance to help expedite critical solutions that can help provide the needed specificity, performance, scalability, and simplicity to market," stated Jerry Lee, CEO and President of True Diagnostics. "Veravas is quickly emerging as the leader in raising the standard of care in laboratory medicine and we look forward to co-developing tools that are essential to support the IVD market and improving the lives of so many patients."
"A collaboration between Infectolab Americas and Veravas is the logical consequence for our two Minnesota companies. We are complementary to each other and have a lot of synergy. We will use this to achieve something that is desperately needed in this time of testing crisis. We will strive to deliver a high quality test for SARS-CoV-2 that is more accurate and sensitive than any other test on the market," said Felix Scholz, President of Infectolab Americas.
"This strategic alliance with TrueDx utilizing their TrueDX Platform™, along with Infectolab's CLIA lab validation capabilities and infectious disease expertise, will allow Veravas to quickly develop a POC test that's easy to use and displays results in under 15 minutes. We are confident that the combined efforts of our three companies will result in the successful development of a rapid test that will assist healthcare providers and laboratorians to quickly and reliably determine whether a patient has developed antibodies to the COVID-19 virus. Most importantly, it will identify those individuals who can safely return to work and go about their daily lives," said Carroll E. Streetman Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Veravas.
TrueDx and Veravas continue to collaborate and expand their portfolios with other emerging organizations and institutions to bring diagnostic solutions and products like VeraTest™ to market.
About True Diagnostics
True Diagnostics (TrueDx) designs and develops innovative POC diagnostic tests and devices based on its proprietary TrueDX™ Platform, which utilizes reliable and low-cost lab methods and its own proprietary or partnered biomarkers to offer rapid diagnoses to facilitate treatment decisions in point-of-care, point-of-incidence and remote-of-care settings. The TrueDX Platform's portability and affordability allow it to be easily adopted into emerging markets to provide accurate diagnosis within minutes. For the $21 billion point-of-care market, the power of the TrueDX Platform lies in its simplicity and flexibility. Tests have an 18-month or longer shelf life with no refrigeration required. The platform's flexible design additionally permits it to quickly commercialize a myriad of biomarkers discovered for cancer, autism, Alzheimer's, diabetes, drugs of abuse, infectious diseases, cardiac health, traumatic brain injury, viral and bacterial infections and more.
About Infectolab Americas
Infectolab Americas is a recently established laboratory located in Oakdale, Minnesota, specializing in comprehensive lab testing for tick-borne infections which provides the tools necessary for Health Care Practitioners to diagnose tick-borne diseases. Their focus is on delivering a quality laboratory performance and guaranteeing a superior sample output; this entails quick shipping time and a rapid turnaround time, as well as providing the most accurate laboratory results possible.
Veravas is transforming laboratory medicine with technology that delivers superior test results, providing confidence to clinicians and patients that diagnoses are accurate. The company's R&D facilities are based in Oakdale, Minnesota, and our staff of scientists and business development are rapidly driving the commercialization of proprietary sample preparation products and new diagnostic tests. Veravas' nanomagnetic particles can identify, remove, and measure select substances from patient samples to reduce the effects of complex interferences and detect low-abundance biomarkers. Led by a passionate and dedicated team, Veravas is devoted to improving patient lives by minimizing the harmful effects of unnecessary treatments and deaths associated with poor quality diagnostic results. Because every patient deserves the correct result, every time. Please visit us at www.veravas.com
David Zaas, M.D., named CEO for MUSC Health - Charleston Div. and Chief Clinical Officer for MUSC HealthDavid Zaas Named to executive post at MUSC see more
Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., CEO for MUSC Health and vice president for Health Affairs, University, named David Zaas, M.D., MBA, as the new chief executive officer, MUSC Health - Charleston Division, and chief clinical officer for MUSC Health. In these roles, Zaas will report directly to Cawley, who leads the entire MUSC Health statewide system. Following a national search, Zaas was recommended for this major leadership position by a search committee co-chaired by Prabhakar Baliga, M.D., chair, Department of Surgery, and Lisa Montgomery, MHA, MUSC executive vice president, Finance and Operations. Zaas is scheduled to join MUSC in July.
As the CEO of MUSC Health - Charleston, Zaas will lead the MUSC Hospital Authority in Charleston, including the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion. He will oversee the executive leadership team of the MUSC Health - Charleston Division and serve on the MUSC Health System Council, as CEO of our flagship hospital. His responsibility as chief clinical officer will involve providing guidance and advice on health care system strategies.
“Dr. Zaas has a deep appreciation for academic medicine and its critical role in research and innovation,” Cawley said. “He has a history of leading and promoting successful collaboration among a university, practice plan and health system. In addition, he is a profound advocate for patient and family centeredness and has a demonstrated track record of leading clinical growth, financial success and top performance in quality and safety. We look forward to the many contributions he can make to our health system,” he added.
Prior to accepting his new role, Zaas served as president of Duke Raleigh Hospital since 2014. His previous leadership positions at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, include: chief medical officer, Duke Faculty Practice Diagnostic Clinic; medical director, Duke University Hospital; vice chair, Department of Medicine, Duke University; and medical director for Lung and Heart-Lung Transplantation, Duke University Hospital. He has played a central role in advancing multiple key strategic initiatives for Duke Health, including care redesign, clinical integration and improving access for patients.
Zaas holds a B.A. in biology from Yale University, an M.D. from Northwestern University Medical School, and an MBA from Duke University. He completed his internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital and fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at Duke University. Zaas’s academic interests have involved both translational and clinical research focused on improving outcomes from lung transplantation including the role of infectious complications after transplant.
About MUSC Health
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan, and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2019, for the fifth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
Founded in 1824, MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
Blinktbi of Charleston, SC pinpoints concussions see more
A startup that grew out of research at the Medical University of South Carolina and The Citadel has hit the market and closed on a new round of funding.
Blinktbi Inc.’s EyeStat device, now being sold to schools and athletic programs, puffs food-grade carbon dioxide into a subject’s eye, triggering the blink reflex. Then, high-speed cameras within the device capture thousands of images and gauge how long it took for the person to blink.
The upstart raised nearly $5 million in 2017, its first year. Those early funds were used in part to finance ongoing research at The Citadel to prove the device can be used to detect concussions and other maladies.
Ryan Fiorini, Blinktbi’s chief operations officer, said the EyeStat prototype weighed 100 pounds, and it utilized a gaming computer to process the images.
The next job was to cut it down to size.
“It didn’t fit in the back of my full-size SUV,” said Fiorini, who has a doctorate immunology and microbiology from MUSC. “We rolled that into the engineer’s office and said, ‘We need this to be four-and-a-half pounds.’”
They were able to pull it off.
The company cleared a formidable hurdle at the end of 2019, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Blinktbi permission to market its device, after a rigorous review process that took months to complete. One study published in 2013 found the FDA’s process to get medical devices to market from the idea phase typically takes between three and seven years.
Now free to begin selling EyeStat, Fiorini said the company is leasing the technology to lessen the blow of the device’s full cost of about $10,000.
The latest round of funding, for about $6 million, will help offset the costs of manufacturing the medical devices, to make that option possible.
Fiorini said organizations can rent EyeStat for around $200 per month.
One day, the company hopes insurance will cover the use of the technology.
The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences estimated the number sports-related concussions every year falls between 1.7 million and 3 million. About 300,000 are football injuries. Half go unreported.
Concussions happen when a blow to the head causes the brain to bounce around in the skull, leading to a chemical response, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those chemical changes make the brain more sensitive to stress until it heals.
The CDC found in one study that children and teens account for 65 percent of all concussions.
Fiorini’s own son suffered a concussion when he fell off a dock as a toddler.
“What we would come to find out is that there was no way to test him,” Fiorini said in a TEDx talk in Charleston last year.
Studies of how the blink reflex can indicate diseases like Parkinson’s and schizophrenia date back to the 1950s. But no tool has been developed in the intervening decades to use the response to help with diagnosis.
Dr. Nancey Tsai, a neurosurgeon at MUSC, came up with the idea for a portable machine that could measure the blink reflex in 2011.
From there, the Zucker Institute for Applied Neurosciences, which is embedded within MUSC, helped to license the technology. Mark Semler, CEO of the institute and now an adviser to Blinktbi, said the startup is the second in the institute’s portfolio to pass FDA clearance.
“The market is huge, because there’s no good option out there,” Semler said. “The blink can’t be cheated.”
Right now, Fiorini said the company has fewer than 10 employees working out of its office on Rutledge Avenue. Among its advisers are heavy-hitters in the world of sports, including Danny Morrison, the former president of the Carolina Panthers, Steve Smith, a longtime wide receiver in the NFL, and Harvey Schiller, former executive director of the United States Olympic Committee and former president of the International Baseball Federation.
Looking forward, Blinktbi is researching whether its technology could help to detect Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Fiorini said he can see EyeStat in the hands of police for field tests, giving officers an immediate, objective measure of sobriety — though each new application for the device would require a new round of FDA approvals.
SEMDA, SEBIO Merge into Southeast Life Sciences see more
Representatives from the Southeastern Medical Device Association (SEMDA) and Southeast BIO (SEBIO) have announced that the two organizations have officially merged to form Southeast Life Sciences. The merger provides a single platform for medtech and bioscience innovation, partnering and investor relations in the region.
“The convergence of medical technologies, including devices, with bioscience technologies including drugs, data, digital and combination products necessitates the convergence of these entities,” former SEMDA Executive Director and now Southeast Life Science Executive Director Jason Rupp says. “In order to respond to the combined needs of stakeholders in both ecosystems, the time has arrived for SEBIO and SEMDA to come together under one roof.”
Combining individuals, corporations, universities and other entities in one regional industry organization mitigates “death by one thousand conferences,” ensuring more efficient use of time and resources, Rupp says.
New technologies like nanoparticles and microneedles for drug delivery coming out of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint program of Emory University and Georgia Tech, are tangible examples of the potential for innovation when multiple scientific disciplines connect.
“With the advent of devices like Cardiomems that blend device with data and devices that deliver pharmaceutical therapies, close connectivity between medical device and bioscience innovators is advantageous to regional stakeholders, especially investors,” Rupp says.
“Because clients span the entirety of medtech innovation including devices, pharmaceutical therapies and combination devices, many companies like ours needed to support both organizations,” says former SEMDA Chair Tiffany Wilson, CEO of the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI). “Financially, this meant telling them, ‘We have this amount of funding support for you. You have to figure out how to divvy it up.’ While both SEBIO and SEMDA flagship conferences had value, bringing them under the same roof brings connectivity, educational and financial efficiency gains for all concerned that should lift medtech and life science innovation and investment across the board.”
The inaugural ADVANSE Life Science Conference, Southeast Life Science’s flagship event will be May 28-29, 2020 in Charleston, SC. Organizers expect to convene more than 500 attendees, including a significant number of investors, highlighting innovations from 50 early stage medtech and bioscience companies over the two-day conference.
David Day, Executive Director of Southeast BIO, added, “Southeast BIO and SEMDA have been operating as sister organizations for medtech and life science stakeholders in the southeast. The resulting merger will provide a critical mass of innovation that will be more than the sum of its parts.”
Many major life science firms have made the move to the Charleston region, and more are on the way see more
Compliments of Industry Today
December 19, 2019
Charleston leads the nation for job growth in scientific R&D firms. In the past two decades, major life science firms have made the move to the Charleston region. Charleston is home to 75+ medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers, research laboratories and service companies. Life science executives across the globe are discovering that the Charleston region offers what many other larger, oversaturated markets cannot: a lifestyle that attracts and retains top talent, easy connections to life science and healthcare executives, and business-friendly regional and state support.
Read the full article HERE.