RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Renowned inventor Thomas Edison once said that “the value of an idea lies in the using of it.”

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center and UNC FastTraCS are collaborating with health systems across the state to help health care providers do just that – turn good ideas into useful clinician innovations.

A two-day conference – “Accelerating Heath Care Innovation in North Carolina: Charting the Course” – is designed to connect participants with the people, insights, and strategies they need to navigate the creative process, from ideas through execution.

The virtual event will be held September 23 and 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The $25 cost of admission will include access to session recordings after the conference, as well as free admission to a separate Health Innovation Summit sponsored by Charlotte-based RevTech Labs on September 20-22. That event also is virtual.

Participants in “Accelerating Health Care Innovation” will learn how to:

  • Identify unmet health care needs in the areas in which they work;
  • Translate creative concepts into new products;
  • Commercialize new technology;
  •  Find funding and other support; and
  • Start new companies around their innovative ideas.

Targets health professionals, backed by 11 NC health systems

The agenda is targeted at a wide range of health care specialists that includes physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, allied health professionals like physical and respiratory therapists, emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

Eleven of the state’s largest health systems are participating: Mission Health in western North Carolina; Cone Health, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Duke Health, Wake Med, UNC Health, Atrium, Novant Health and FirstHealth in the Piedmont; and Vidant Heath and New Hanover Regional Medical Center in the east.

“Medicine is an art and a science that is constantly evolving,” said Greta Brunet, senior director of investments with the Emerging Company Development team at NCBiotech. “Practitioners on the front line play an important role in that transformation. A poor outcome for a patient, a need for a tool or device to make a procedure more efficient, a lack of an effective therapeutic to treat a patient — these are among the things that can spark an idea for a solution.”

Since most clinicians don’t receive any innovation or entrepreneurship-related education during their medical training, developing new solutions to health care challenges can be a significant undertaking, she added. “As a result, many drop their ideas before they even get started. Our goal is to help provide the ‘village’ to support these endeavors.”

Clinical innovation is a topic Brunet, a former physician assistant, is passionate about. She and Corie Curtis, executive director of NCBiotech’s Greater Charlotte Office, began a Clinical Innovation Initiative at the Biotechnology Center about five years ago. The project has served as a catalyst for innovation, providing a portal to connect entrepreneurial clinicians across the state with resources, training, and networking and partnering opportunities to help drive success. Brunet said the September conference is the culmination of the experience they’ve gained through those efforts.

Two leading physician innovators on tap as keynote speakers

Keynote speakers for the event are two leading physician innovators:

William Cohn, M.D.
William Cohn, M.D.

William E. Cohn, M.D., vice president at Johnson & Johnson Medical Device Companies (JJMDC) and executive director for the J&J Center for Device Innovation at the Texas Medical Center; and

Hassan A. Tetteh, M.D., a U.S. Navy captain, is health mission chief for warfighter health at the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) in the Department of Defense.

Hassan A. Tetteh, M.D.
Hassan A. Tetteh, M.D.

Cohn is recognized for his medical-device development, with more than 90 U.S. patents granted or pending and another 60 international patents for medical innovations. Prior to joining JJMDC, he was director of the Cullen Cardiovascular Research Lab at the famed Texas Heart Institute and director of minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgery there. He spent 11 years on the faculty at Harvard Medical School earlier in his career.

Tetteh, who also is a thoracic surgeon for MedStar Health and Walter Reed National Military Hospital, leads a Specialized Thoracic Adapted Recovery (STAR) team in Washington, D.C. His research aims to save lives by improving heart and lung recovery following thoracic transplantation. Tetteh was selected as a 2019 Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine Scholar by the National Academy of Medicine. He is a bestselling author of several books, including The Art of Human Care series.

Panelists representing regional health systems, life science accelerators, med tech investors, and medical device and digital health IT companies started by clinical innovators also are on the agenda.

“We’re incredibly excited to co-host this year’s inaugural event,” said Andrew Kant, associate director at FastTraCS. “Healthcare has no lack of problems to solve. By bringing together innovative clinicians from across North Carolina, we hope to inspire some of them to put their ideas into action. And since innovation doesn’t occur in a vacuum, we also want to start a productive dialogue across the various healthcare systems that will encourage and support creative ideas.”

About NCBiotech and FastTraCS

  • The North Carolina Biotechnology Center – an independent nonprofit organization supported by the state of North Carolina – exists to accelerate life sciences technology-based economic development through innovation, commercialization, education and business growth.
  • FastTraCS is part of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute. The organization provides support to health care professionals within the university system to quickly translate discoveries and inventions into beneficial marketable products.

(C) N.C. Biotech Center