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As Innovators Unwrap Key Insights, Texas Health Catalyst Wraps Up Consulting Phase

Oct. 25, 2018

Texas Health Catalyst at Dell Medical School, UT Austin supports researchers and inventors in accelerating the translation of innovations to health products. Of the 80 proposals submitted to the program this year, a select number of finalists were invited to participate in the consulting award phase where teams received customized guidance from clinicians and industry experts. Thanks to her role in managing the consulting phase, Itzel Torres program associate at Texas Health Catalyst, had a front seat at the consulting and review sessions where she believes most of the magic happens. She shares some interesting observations about this phase of the program.

Throughout my career, I’ve had my share of bootcamps and “drinking out of a firehose” moments where there is a lot to learn and not enough time to quite catch up, so I empathize with the teams that participate in the Texas Health Catalyst program. I’m always impressed by the cutting-edge innovation and passion that applicant teams bring to the program. It is also amazing how the program manages to provide value to each team despite the varied disciplines and project stages.

During this phase, the program under the leadership of director Nishi Viswanathan, takes great care matching each project with clinical and industry advisors that have extensive experience in the relevant technology area. I have seen several examples during this cycle of how this customized approach enhances the quality of every discussion between advisors and innovators. As one finalist commented, the program is extremely “thoughtful and intentional” about the connections made.

Unlike a bootcamp or a crash course, these advisor meetings flow more like a conversation that is enriched by very different perspectives. Clinical advisors make sure that the intricacies of their workflow are considered; there is always some insight that comes from having an insider’s view into a typical day in their lives. Industry experts and investors help assess the commercial viability of projects and more importantly, offer ways to mitigate downstream challenges. Depending on the project stage, intellectual property attorneys and regulatory consultants are also part of the advisory team. The ability to provide this holistic perspective is unique to programs like Texas Health Catalyst that straddle the clinical and business worlds.

One of the program finalists Sina Haeri, assistant professor of women's health at Dell Med confirms the value of these interactions, “Texas Health Catalyst put me in touch with several experts and I learned something from every advisor. The one-on-one consultation meeting with Omar Hakim, angel investor and vice president of client strategy at Michael Best also proved to be extremely high-yield. His advice gave me a lot of clarity in terms of how exactly to move this project forward.”

There is an aspect of the technology or an application that hadn’t been considered by the team that gives them the insights to adjust or completely pivot from their initial proposal. It is these pivots and new opportunities that add maximum value, although they are hard to quantify. In one particular case, I realized that it would have taken the team months to get to the insights that they received in one hour from our clinical advisor. It was rewarding to watch teams take in the advice provided to make big changes to their target markets, product designs, revenue models and in some cases their entire commercialization plans.

On behalf of the program, I would like to express my gratitude to all the advisors and reviewers who generously volunteered their time to provide feedback and guide our project teams over the past few months. It was certainly challenging to coordinate these meetings considering the busy schedules of those involved but I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a unique program and imbibe a bit of wisdom from each of these encounters.

Therapeutics

Project: Delivery of Neuropharmaceuticals to Bypass Blood/Brain Barrier

Team:

  • Bryan Davies, assistant professor, UT Austin College of Natural Sciences
  • Colleen Mulvihill, UT Austin College of Natural Sciences

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • David Paydarfar, M.D., interim director for the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences
  • Tim Sullivan, CEO at Zeteo Biomedical LLC
  • Yash Sabharwal, CEO at NanoMedical Systems

Project: Novel Formulation of Antibiotic for Management of TB & Non-TB Mycobacterial Infections

Team:

  • Ashlee Brunaugh, UT Austin College of Pharmacy
  • Hugh Smyth, professor, UT Austin College of Pharmacy
  • Omar Fuentes, UT Austin College of Pharmacy

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Doug Baum, CEO of Vindolor Pharmaceuticals
  • Robert Teague, chief medical officer of Green Room Technologies

Project: Novel Enzyme-Based Cancer Therapeutic to Stimulate Immune Response

Team:

  • Everett Stone, Ph.D., UT Austin College of Natural Sciences
  • Donjeta Gupta, UT Austin College of Natural Sciences

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Bill Matsui, M.D., deputy director at Livestrong Cancer Institutes, Dell Medical School
  • Rahul Jasuja, CEO of Pelican Therapeutics
  • Ryan Confer, CFO of Genprex, Inc.

Digital Health & Care Delivery

Project: Care Coordination App for Mental Health Clinics

Team:

  • Kasey Claborn, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, Dell Medical School
  • Avani Jhaveri, project coordinator for psychiatry, Dell Medical School

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Robert Teague, chief medical officer for Green Room Technologies
  • Shobhan Thakkar, partner at HealthX Ventures
  • Zac Jiwa, co-founder and CEO of MI7

Project: Predictive Model & Clinical Decision Support for Medication Non-Adherence

Team:

  • Tyler Gums, assistant professor, UT Austin College of Pharmacy
  • Valerie Yuenger, UT Austin College of Pharmacy
  • Bill Tierney, M.D., professor and chair of population health, Dell Medical School
  • Rick Peters, chief technology innovation officer, Dell Medical School

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Drew Miller, executive principal director at Frog Design
  • Kevin Mayes, chief product officer for Amchart LLC.

Project: Intelligent Assistant for Radiologists with Draft Report and Differential Diagnosis

Team:

  • Nick Bryan, M.D., Ph.D., chair of diagnostic medicine, Dell Medical School
  • Abhijeet Pradhan, CEO of Galileo CDS Inc.

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Charlie Plauche, partner at S3 Ventures
  • Jacob A Childers, physician at Austin Regional Clinic

Project: Novel Urgent Wellness Care Model to Address Health Disparities

Team:

  • Freya Spielberg, chief of family medicine, Dell Medical School
  • Ofelia Zapapta, lead community implementation and president, South East Memorial High School PTA

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Buzz White, president and co-founder of Afoundria
  • Michael Hole, M.D., assistant professor of population health, Dell Medical School

Devices & Monitoring

Project: Tattoo-like Sensor for Continuous Blood Pressure Monitoring

Team:

  • Nanshu Lu, associate professor, UT Austin Cockrell School of Engineering
  • Joshua Chang, Department of Neurology and Population Health, Dell Medical School

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Andrew Nerlinger, managing director at Endura Ventures
  • Marc DeVinney, CTO of AHAH! Sensor Technologies

Project: An In-Vivo Laparoscopic Cleaner to Prevent Lens Fogging

Team:

  • John Uecker, M.D., associate professor, Dell Medical School; CEO of ClearCam, Inc.
  • Chris Rylander, associate professor, UT Austin Cockrell School of Engineering; CTO of ClearCam Inc.
  • Doug Stoakley, COO of ClearCam Inc.
  • Chris Idelson, Ph.D., candidate, UT Austin Cockrell School of Engineering; VP Engineering for ClearCam Inc.

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Ryan Egeland, executive VP at Cardiovascular Systems, Inc.
  • Sameer Mohiuddin, D.O., surgeon and president at Texas Laparoendoscopic Surgery and Clinical; assistant professor of surgery and perioperative care, Dell Medical School

Project: Oxygenated Bandage to Prevent Scarring and Bacterial Infections

Team:

  • Eric Frey, CEO of MedNoxa Inc.
  • Evan Skowronski, Ph.D., MedNoxa Inc.

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Anthony Rodriguez, senior product manager at TVA Medical
  • Meghana Gadgil, assistant professor of population health and internal medicine, Dell Medical School

Project: Sensor Device to Monitor Vital Signs in Real Time

Team:

  • Kurt Stump, CEO of Sempulse
  • Mike Boyle, CSO of Sempulse
  • Sean Bauld, CMO of Sempulse

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Jeff Zigler, senior director of market access, health economics and reimbursement at Zimmer Biomet
  • Justin Rousseau, M.D., MMsc, co-director of data core, Department of Population Health and assistant professor of neurology, Dell Medical School
  • Ross Garett, COO at AptamiR Therapeutics

Diagnostics & Imaging

Project: Quick and Cost-Effective Diagnostic Tool to Measure Blood Loss During Hemorrhage in Low Resource Settings

Team:

  • Sina Haeri, M.D., MHSA, assistant professor of women's health, Dell Medical School
  • Thomas Milner, professor, UT Austin Cockrell School of Engineering

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Amy Altman, VP of clinical affairs at Reliant Immune Diagnostics
  • Hector Torres, CEO of Onko Solutions
  • Kami Geoffray, CEO of Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas
  • Lisa McDonald, ATI assistant program manager, Biosciences

Project: Real Time Imaging and Live Brain Animation During Surgery to Map Brain Shift

Team:

  • Jeff Levine, co-founder/CEO of Advanced Scanners
  • Aaron Bernstein, Ph.D., research scientist, CTO Advanced Scanners
  • Lars Kuslich, biomedical engineer at Advanced Scanners

Texas Health Catalyst Advisors:

  • Jordan Amadio, M.D., attending neurosurgeon, Dell Seton Medical Center
  • Stephanie Kreml, M.D., Senior Advisor at Popper and Co.

For more information about any of these projects, please email the program.


Itzel Torres is a program associate at the Texas Health Catalyst. She’s on a mission to help innovators get the help they need to make progress toward their goals. Equipped with a systems engineering background, she enjoys cutting through clutter to get to basic concepts. Her career has spanned multiple industries but her main focus areas have been health care and education. Torres has a bachelor's in computer information systems from Davenport University and an master's from the McCombs School of Business at UT Austin.