Taking a lifesaving product or procedure from inspiration to innovative patient care can be a long and difficult path to navigate. For the past 50 years, the cardiologists at Emory University have successfully traveled that path, leading the way in everything from bypass and transplant surgery to angioplasty and stents.
Now, Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center is using the knowledge that comes from five decades of innovation to establish the Emory Center for Device Innovation (CDI). The CDI will prepare projects for outside investment, product development, and commercialization. It will guide promising projects through the difficult "proof of concept" stage of development. The CDI will also help Emory faculty protect their ideas as patentable intellectual property.
Emory cardiothoracic surgeon, Omar Lattouf, MD, PhD, newly appointed director of the CDI states: "The key mission of the center is to streamline the process at Emory so that scientific discoveries can lead to therapeutic products that benefit patients. Emory is rich with innovators, outstanding scientists, and highly capable clinicians who are dedicated to providing the best patient care and academic productivity. It is the right place for developing patient-focused innovations and inventions and encouraging investment in new cutting-edge technologies that will bring less invasive procedures, shorter hospital stays, and speedier recovery."
The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center supports and funds the CDI under the direction of Michael M.E. Johns, MD, executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and chairman of the board for Emory Healthcare.
"Encouraging innovations, protecting ideas, proving their worth, and then taking them to industry, investors, and collaborators to further advance new discoveries is the key to medical progress," says Dr. Johns. "It's another way in which we are, as an institution, working to make people healthy everywhere."
Academic scientists and physicians have traditionally had difficulty getting their discoveries out of the university and into the marketplace. They often lack the entrepreneurial knowledge to negotiate the process, and many universities have no mechanism to help them develop marketable inventions. The Emory CDI will help scientists and physician/inventors bridge that gap, providing guidance and funding for specific projects at crucial stages of development.
"Proving the concepts behind the inventions can be costly and time consuming," Dr. Lattouf says. "But proof is necessary to attract the investment dollars needed to take inventions to market and make them available for patients and doctors everywhere."
The CDI, in close collaboration with the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, will initially focus on one of Emory's historic strengths -- cardiac and vascular devices and therapeutics -- and expand into other clinical specialties and strategic scientific areas across the various disciplines of the University.
Robert Guyton, MD, the internationally-renowned cardiac surgeon and professor and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, will coordinate the CDI with the overall strategic plan for the growth of minimally invasive cardiac and vascular interventional services at Emory.
The Emory Heart Center is consistently ranked as one of the nation's top heart programs by "US News & World Report." It is the only heart program in Georgia included in the nation's top 50.
For more information on upcoming events sponsored by the CDI, see www.aimsbiodesign.org.