Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Georgia Collaboration Produces First Southeastern Center Focused on Developing Medical Devices

Global Center for Medical Innovation to support growth of medical device, technology industry

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that four of Georgia’s leading research and health care organizations have joined together to create an innovative new center that will accelerate the development and commercialization of next-generation medical devices and medical technology. The first of its kind in the Southeast, the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) will include a comprehensive medical device prototyping center.

“By bringing together these public and private resources, we have provided a strong foundation for accelerating the growth of the medical device and medical technology industry in Georgia,” said Governor Perdue. “This partnership demonstrates the strengths Georgia provides industry through collaborations among its research universities, health care organizations and the Georgia Research Alliance.”

The Governor made the announcement during a press conference in the Georgia Pavilion at the 2009 BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the global biotechnology community. The convention is being held in Atlanta May 18 through May 21, its first-ever meeting in the southeastern United States.

Supported by the Georgia Institute of Technology, Saint Joseph’s Translational Research Institute (SJTRI), Piedmont Healthcare and the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), the new center will bring together a complete medical device marketplace – which includes universities, research centers and clinicians; established drug and device companies; investors, and early-stage companies. The new center will be located adjacent to the Georgia Tech campus in Technology Enterprise Park.

“The convergence of the life sciences with engineering provides a unique opportunity to expand our technology in areas that will support the health care industry of the future,” said G. P. “Bud” Peterson, president of Georgia Tech. “The Global Center for Medical Innovation will bring together in one location the key infrastructure needed to rapidly move new medical devices and new medical technologies to market.”

The new center will include a complete medical device prototyping center and have the capability to produce evaluation devices using “good manufacturing practices” mandated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). It will also be able to manage, coordinate and aggregate intellectual property from the partner organizations and interested private companies.

The Saint Joseph’s Translational Research Institute (SJTRI), the research division of Saint Joseph’s Health System, will add the capability for preclinical studies of new devices and technologies. SJTRI has recently opened a new, state-of-the art, 32,000-square-foot preclinical research facility at Technology Enterprise Park. With the GCMI resources, it will provide a comprehensive set of services for developing, testing and prototyping medical innovations.

The leading-edge medical research conducted at the founding institutions will be the engine behind the new center. By bringing together physicians with direct experience at treating patients with scientists and engineers, GCMI will facilitate the development of technology that meets real-world medical needs.

“Physicians on the front lines of patient treatment have a very real appreciation of the need for new technology, but they often lack the resources to translate their ideas and solutions into new medical devices,” said Jay S. Yadav, M.D., chairman of the Piedmont Healthcare Center for Medical Innovation, a cardiologist with Piedmont Heart Institute Physicians and CEO of Atlanta medical device company CardioMEMS. “By collaborating with institutions like Georgia Tech, we can meet patient needs and create new business opportunities.”

The proximity to university resources will also make the center attractive to outside industry and startup companies.

“Investments in Georgia’s research universities are helping to create the knowledge and innovation necessary to expand the medical device industry in the state,” said Mike Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), a public-private organization that supports the development of technology industry in Georgia. “Through activities like GCMI and Georgia Research Alliance commercialization activities at the state’s research universities, we are supporting the development and growth of this promising industry.”

Because of the research strengths of the partnering institutions, the center’s initial focus is expected to include devices and technologies in cardiology, orthopedics and pediatrics. The only one of its kind in the Southeast, the new center is expected to attract companies from outside Georgia.

“Medical device companies in the Southeast have long suffered a disadvantage compared to competitors that have access to long-established support networks,” said Nicolas Chronos, M.D., president of the Saint Joseph’s Translational Research Institute and an internationally-known cardiologist and researcher. “The new Georgia center will allow companies to contract with a single entity for comprehensive development activities, create a single location for investors seeking qualified medical device companies, and allow innovations developed by multiple institutions to be combined to create more useful devices.”

GCMI is a not-for-profit entity that will have its own governing board with representatives from its partners and stakeholders. A startup manager who will direct the center is expected to be named in the next few months.
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