The latest life sciences and technology news in WRALTechWire’s Bulldog Bulletin roundup:

  • RTI lands partners for new epilepsy network

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – RTI International is working with the Epilepsy Foundation and Columbia University to form a patient-powered research network geared toward improving health care for people with rare epilepsies.
The partnership is part part of an award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

This Collaborative Patient-Centered Rare Epilepsy Network is one of 29 networks approved for a combined $93.5 million from PCORI, an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress. The networks will collectively form PCORnet, a new national resource aimed at increasing health research efficiency and providing evidence-based information needed to make informed health care decisions.

The rare epilepsy network, led by the Epilepsy Foundation, includes seven patient advocacy groups representing patients with Aicardi, Dravet, Dup15q, Lennox-Gastuat or Phelan-McDermid syndromes, tuberous sclerosis, or hypothalamic hamartoma. These catastrophic epilepsies are so rare that they are poorly understood. There is little information about the number of people affected, the prognosis and survival, or the effectiveness of some treatments.

Through this award, the network will also help further answer those questions as well as form policies governing data sharing and security, and patient privacy protection.

During the 18-month award, RTI will work closely with the Epilepsy Foundation, patient advocacy groups, and Columbia University co-investigator and epidemiologist Dale Hesdorffer to create the necessary network infrastructure to allow for implementation of research studies and sustainability of the network. RTI will also host the clinical database and maintain the biospecimen repository.

  • SAS ranks as leader in new report

CARY – SAS is ranked as a category leader in the Chartis RiskTech Quadrant® for Solvency II Technology Solutions. The report highlighted insurers using leading robust data management, analytics and reporting platforms like SAS® Risk Management for Insurance to juggle Solvency II demands.

Chartis defines leaders as providing offerings specifically designed for the insurance industry.
SAS Risk Management for Insurance is helps life and P&C insurance companies to implement the Solvency II standard model approach for calculating risk-based capital.


  • Lawyers to use more cloud tools, LexisNexis survey says

CARY – According to a survey conducted by LexisNexis, 72 percent of practicing attorneys at independent law firms in the U.S. are more likely to use cloud tools in 2014 than the previous year.

A report based on the survey found that about 40 percent of practicing attorneys in independent U.S. law firms are already using cloud-based tools, which is up nearly 10 percent over previous industry studies released in the last 12 months or so. Forty percent of respondents believe that cloud-based tools will eclipse premise-based solutions in the next three to five years.

“While it’s taken the legal industry a bit longer than other industries to come around to the cloud, client expectations for collaborative services, combined with the efficiency, accessibility, and lower total cost are driving the independent attorney to adopt the cloud,” said Loretta Ruppert, senior director for Community Management, with the LexisNexis Firm Manager group. “We’ve clearly hit a tipping point as the gap between early adopters and the mainstream market is closing; 2014 is poised to be the year of the cloud in small law.”

  • Shackelford recommended as Kenan-Flagler Business School dean

CHAPEL HILL – Douglas Shackelford, a professor of taxation and associate dean of the MBA@UNC Program, will be recommended to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees as the next dean of Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Chancellor Carol Folt and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James Dean Jr. selected Shackelford following an international search and the work of a search committee led by Susan King, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Trustees are expected to consider the recommendation this week. The recommended appointment date is Feb. 1, 2014.

“I had the opportunity to meet with the very talented candidates for this important role at UNC,” Folt said. “Ultimately, Doug became the clear choice to lead UNC Kenan-Flagler and ensure its continued success.”

Shackelford would succeed Dean, who served as dean from 2008 until he became provost last July. John P. Evans has been serving as interim dean since then.

  • Abbott spinoff faces new AIDS drug trial

NEW YORK –AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) an Abbott Laboratories spinoff, will face a new trial of a GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) lawsuit over an AIDS drug accord after a federal appeals court said Abbott’s lawyers improperly excluded a gay man from the jury.

Equal-protection rights prohibit excluding jurors based on sexual orientation, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Wednesday. The jury in Oakland, California, in 2011 ordered Abbott to pay Glaxo $3.5 million for breaching the drug agreement. Abbott was cleared of claims that it sought to stifle competition over HIV drugs when it quadrupled the price of the AIDS medicine Norvir in 2003.

The judge overseeing the trial permitted the exclusion during jury selection, when Abbott exercised its right to keep certain individuals off the jury. When questioned, the man said he had a male partner and had lost friends to AIDS, according to the ruling.