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Blog – Medical Innovators Collaborative

Building leaders.

Saving lives.

Category: Blog

The Closing of MEDIC

Two years ago a group of students, under the tutelage of Dr. Andrew DiMeo, Tim Martin, and Preston Linn, wrote a grant proposal to start an organization designed to “establish a regional hub for productive interactions to develop biomedical solutions aimed at improving quality of life.” The awarded grant set in motion the development of the organization known today as the Medical Innovators Collaborative (MEDIC), a unique 501(c)3 not-for-profit committed to advance the medical device sector of North Carolina by creating meaningful connections between clinical innovators, startups, the medtech industry, and students. After a productive and exciting life-cycle, today we announce the end of our organization. While these times of transition are always bittersweet, the mission of MEDIC was largely a success. The Triangle area has seen many changes over the past two years and the local medtech and life science sectors are thriving more than ever.

Never designed to prolong itself in perpetuity, MEDIC functioned to catalytically direct its modest resources for maximal impact with minimal remuneration.  The core focus of MEDIC’s work was around projects. We worked to push forward life science innovations brought to us by clinicians, startups, and large medical device companies alike. Multidisciplinary and multi-institutional teams of students were carefully crafted to apply their technical and business skills to each technology brought to us. The result was a vibrant culture of collaboration, innovation, and education. Over the course of two years, we worked on 11 different projects, providing internships to 32 students from NC State, UNC, and Duke Universities. Our interns gained experience with a first-hand look at innovation and the product development life cycle and made valuable connections for future career opportunities.

Several new organizations have begun over the lifespan of MEDIC that serve the life science sector of North Carolina and can fill the gap left behind by the absence of our organization. For prototyping equipment access and design services, First Flight Venture Center’s Hangar 6 is a sound resource. Their high end equipment should fit the needs of any innovator and if they don’t have the exact piece of equipment you need, chances are they know someone who does. For events, LaunchBio’s new monthly series, titled Larger than Life Science, is a valuable place to maintain connections as well as to develop new ones within the life science industry. We are confident that these groups and all of the others serving North Carolina will continue to take the life science sector to new heights.

Last, but certainly not least, we would like to thank those individuals and organizations that supported MEDIC throughout its life. Thank you to the founders of the organization, Andrew DiMeo, Tim Martin, Preston Linn, Melissa White, Seth Steele-Pardue, Jared Little, and Andy Taylor, whose ideas and energy gave birth to what would become MEDIC. Thank you to our Board of Directors, Andrew DiMeo, Kenny Andersen, Peter Johnson, Joan Seifert-Rose, and Rob Tyler, for providing wisdom and guidance throughout our organization’s life. Thank you to Ashley Thieman, our Director of Operations, whose expertise and dedication allowed MEDIC to push its projects forward while looking for new growth opportunities. Thank you to the Research Triangle Foundation, Kenan Institute of Engineering, Technology, and Science, Tucasi, UNC, NC State, and the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center for providing us with startup funds and a place to call home for two years. And a very big thank you to all of the organizations that provided our projects and interns with in-kind service, including the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Trig, NCBio, R!oT, UNC Rex, MedSurgPI, MedX, Biotechnology Transfer, Sotomayor IP Consulting, Jenkins, Wilson, Tayor & Hunt, Hangar 6, Eva Garland Consulting, Ringbolt, Nocturnal Product Development, Williams Mullen, Stephen Gould Group and Seth Wright. Each organization provided resources in their own way which allowed our projects to progress and allowed our interns to interact with a wide array of industry professionals. None of what we did would be possible without all of these groups and we are immensely grateful for the support provided.

For any questions you may have regarding MEDIC, feel free to reach out to Andy Taylor by email at: matayl10@gmail.com

We Eat…Ants?

“Less chocolate and more ants, please!” -Ashley Thieman, probably

All work and no play makes the MEDIC team rather dull. That’s why when we want to unwind, have some fun, and do some great networking all at the same time, we go to LaunchBio’s Larger than Life Science Events. Hosted on the first Thursday of every month, LaunchBio packs these three hour events with informative talks from leaders of the life science industry, fun activities for all ages, and local craft beer!

Ashley Thieman, our Director of Operations, and I have made a habit of attending Larger than Life Science and have had a blast every time. The first one happened in the midst of a January snowstorm and there were still at least 100 attendees! Say what you will about the North Carolina life science community, but we are some serious beer drinkers and networkers.

The February event took an interesting turn. It started with an amazing panel on FDA regulations featuring one of our partners, Luke Marshall, CEO of VitalFlo. By the way, if you like revolutionary medical technologies and haven’t heard of VitalFlo, you definitely want to check them out. Next on the docket were demonstrations of the new frontiers of technology, such as virtual reality. Then a section of tables caught my eye; the new frontier of food!

“This cricket and pale ale pairing is simply divine.” -Andy Taylor

That feeling of excitement was quickly changed to confusion when I walked up to a table of bugs! Not only that, but these bugs had flavors? We saw crickets with flavors like bacon and cheddar, and chocolate wafers filled with ants! Being the bold and fearless individuals that we are, Ashley and I each tried a bacon and cheddar cricket first and the experience was…interesting, to say the least. Next up were the ant wafers. Mine was mostly chocolate, but Ashley ate a particularly ant-y wafer.

The prospect of eating insects may sound ridiculous, I’m not completely sold on the concept myself, but there are some benefits. Insects are relatively easy to grow and maintain and they are chock-full of nutrients! In fact, it is more efficient to grow insects for consumption than most livestock we currently eat. Eating insects is not an uncommon practice outside of the US. While I may not be sold on eating bugs, I am sold on attending the next Larger than Life Science event this Thursday, April 5th. I would encourage anyone who enjoys a good time and learning about life science to attend as well!

MEDIC Adds Two All-Stars to its Team

The Medical Innovators Collaborative is pleased to welcome aboard two new additions to our team: Ashley Thieman as our Director of Operations, and Joan Siefert Rose as a member of the Board of Directors.

In her position, Ashley will design, implement, and oversee MEDIC’s business operations. She will play a critical role in making MEDIC’s vision a reality.

Ashley Thieman, MEDIC’s new Director of Operations

“I am honored to join the team at MEDIC and look forward to applying my experience in nonprofit management, healthcare and strategy to our growing team”, says Ashley. “I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and look forward to embracing our mission while entering this exciting period of growth for our organization.”

Ashley comes to MEDIC with 10 years of experience in the healthcare and nonprofit industries. Prior to joining our team, she was most recently a Senior Director for Surgical Review Corporation, overseeing business development and operations for the international nonprofit. Ashley has also worked as a Director of Business Development for both UNC Rex Healthcare and Millennium Laboratory. In her role with MEDIC, she will be based in Raleigh, NC, and her position has been effective since January 2018.

According to Andy Taylor, president of MEDIC, he is “ecstatic to have Ashley on MEDIC’s team. Her focus and drive are really helping us take MEDIC to the next level in 2018. Her experiences in business development and operations are invaluable as MEDIC continues to grow and support more innovators and students.”

Joan Siefert Rose, newest member of MEDIC’s Board of Directors

Joan Siefert Rose is CEO of LaunchBio Inc, which is a nonprofit organization that supports the growth of biotechnology companies. Joan also serves as a senior partner at CREO Inc, where she leads innovation and entrepreneurship to support business operations in the health and technology sectors.

“Joan’s unique combination of expertise in innovation, nonprofit management, and the life science sector make her an invaluable resource to MEDIC’s Board of Directors.”, says Andrew DiMeo, Chairman of MEDIC’s board.

MEDIC looks forward to working with Joan and Ashley as the company continues to build and connect medical communities in the area.





“Larger than Life Science” Brings Connections and Excitement Every First Thursday in 2018

LaunchBio, Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs with knowledge, capital and talent across the nation’s leading life science hubs, today announced “Larger Than Life Science”, a monthly event open to everyone interested in building a strong support network for North Carolina’s life science and healthcare innovators. The event will be held in the atrium level of the newly renovated Chesterfield Building in downtown Durham, NC, from 4-7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, starting January 4, 2018.

Larger Than Life Science will offer multiple featured programs during each gathering, so participants can choose from a selection of practical workshops, industry partnering sessions, networking, meetings with investors, panel discussions, office hours, and some fun activities. The monthly programs will draw on LaunchBio’s network of national resources, as well as partnerships with local entrepreneurial support organizations. Larger Than Life Science will serve up refreshments from local breweries, and introduce companies and organizations that are contributing to make our community a great place to live and work.

If you have yet to visit the newly renovated Chesterfield building, you do not want to miss out on this opportunity to see the space, while networking with the entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, techies, pharma partners, executives in transition, service providers, and support organizations that make up our life science community. This new space is sure to become a hub for research and development within the local ecosystem.

MEDIC is excited to be a partner partner in this endeavor with LaunchBio along with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, NC Biosciences (NCBIO), Digital Health Impact + Transformation (DHIT), and the American Underground. We would like to thank Hutchison PLLC; Michael Best; and CSC Leasing, Inc. for sponsoring this series.

To learn more, check out their full press release here or visit their website, http://www.launchbio.org/durham


PatientLink Lives on inside MEDIC

Over the past 6 years, Augment Medical has been working to help disabled patients activate the nurse call system. For many people with disabilities, it is difficult to push the big red button on the remote control in a standard hospital room. PatientLink was designed as an easy way for anyone to get help when they most need it in the hospital or nursing faculty room. Imagine you have just been in a car accident, or are dealing with the loss of motor function due to ALS, or you have had a stroke. Pressing a button is not as easy as it once was. Patients in these situations feel alone and scared.

Pictured from left to right: Daniel Bieber, Richard Daniels, and Timothy Martin

A team of 5 students (Daniel Bieber, Richard Daniels, Wenbo Zhang, Astor Liu and Tim Martin) and and a great professor (Andrew DiMeo), from NC State developed a patented solution using a sensor that detects the muscle movements in your forehead to turn on the nurse call system. If the patient wants to call the nurse into their room, all it takes is a raise of the eyebrow. The prototype works great and uses technology similar to what is inside a Fitbit or Apple Watch. The only hangup to this story is the lack of a huge market for nurse call devices in hospitals. Patients are in need but because there are relatively few compared to the overall hospital population, PatientLink was destined to be a niche device that faced a difficult path to market.


The team from Augment Medical worked with a group of therapists and nurses at WakeMed to develop the product based on the needs of the patients they cared for everyday in the intensive care unit. PatientLink has gone through 4 versions that started based on the Arduino hobby platform and is now a professionally designed and developed custom circuit board that can connect to everything from an iPhone to a smart home. Augment Medical, a spinout from the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering department of NCSU and UNC-CH, was created to produce a product to solve that problem. Through Augment, the founders attended business training, networking, pitch competitions, conferences, and funding meetings that were available to them. In the end, the best application of the technology developed may not be the hospital room but the home environments patients with disabilities will live in once they leave the intensive care unit. This is where MEDIC comes into the picture.

Tim Martin shows off the first iteration of PatientLink’s core tech.

MEDIC offers the ability to take the technology to the next level by redesigning the product for use in the home. Integrating with students from UNC-CH and NCSU, MEDIC has built a team of students to develop an app for a smartphone based alert system and a new design to fit the home environment. The student interns from MEDIC will ensure that PatientLink will not be simply put on a shelf somewhere and collect dust. Because of MEDIC, the product has the ability to impact the 2 million patients who live at home with a communication disability.

If you would like to support projects like the PatientLink and others, you can donate to our organization at medic-nc.org/support/. If you would like to join our Collaborative, you can contact us at info@medic-nc.org


Why I Joined the Collaborative

One question I often hear when I speak about MEDIC is “Why did you decide to start this company?” It is an important question for any entrepreneur or business owner to consider. When you are up late trying to make a fancy slideset of company logos on your website, while in the midst of your first ever attempt at raising funds, and with a pile of emails you need to answer, it helps to have a reminder of why you are doing this instead of working a nine to five like a normal human being. For me, that reminder is the BiliSol.

My senior year in the biomedical engineering department at NC State, I had the opportunity to be part of a team of students dedicated to developing solutions to health problems in low income areas. The team was comprised of myself, Taylor Cook, Lauren Chisholm, Spencer Lacy, and Amber Buckalew, all students in the same program. During this adventure, we learned about a condition called neonatal jaundice.

From left to right: Lauren Chisholm, Andy Taylor, Amber Buckalew, Spencer Lacy. Not pictured: Taylor Cook

Neonatal jaundice develops in newborns when their liver hasn’t quite developed. As a result, can’t process a natural byproduct of the body called bilirubin. As bilirubin builds up, it causes a yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and in more intense cases, the chemical can cause chronic neurologic damage or even death. This disease is very common across the globe; in fact, two out of three infants develop this disorder globally, resulting in over 100,000 infant deaths every year.

This annual death toll is a shame, because neonatal jaundice is very easy to treat. All you need to do is shine a blue light on the infant’s skin, which causes bilirubin to break down in a way that the infant can get rid of it. This process is called phototherapy. The problem is that traditional phototherapy devices cost between $4000-$6000 per unit, require specialty bulbs that are hard to come by in low income area, and all require a constant source of electricity. This therapy is not feasible in low income countries.

Over our senior year, my team developed a device we called the BiliSol. It is a simple filter that provides phototherapy using the light of the sun. It turns out, the sun’s spectrum contains the blue light required to cure neonatal jaundice. So long as you can effectively block away the harmful radiation of the sun, you can provide phototherapy free of charge (pun definitely intended)! This system requires no electricity, has no replaceable parts, and costs under $100 to build.

The first prototype of the BiliSol

Once we discovered this system would work, we were ecstatic. We were going to save the world! Cure sick babies! What wasn’t there to love about that? However, life soon got in the way. We all graduated, went on to start our careers, and found it difficult to keep the project moving forward. We didn’t have the time or resources to continue developing this medical device which, it turns out, takes a lot of both! As a result the device sat on a shelf and gathered dust.

This is why I co-founded MEDIC. The BiliSol is one of thousands of potentially life-saving devices that will never make it to community hospitals and clinics because of a lack of resources. Our team thought to ourselves, “What if we could develop five of these technologies, like the BiliSol, and get them to the clinic?” This could potentially lead to 500,000 lives saved every year! Once MEDIC is running at full capacity, we will be spinning out up to five new medical technology companies every year.

Lauren and Andy deliver BiliSol prototypes to Guatemala

The BiliSol story has a happy ending. Since the founding of MEDIC in September of 2016, we have been able to continue developing the BiliSol. In fact, in January 2017, Lauren Chisholm and myself were able to build prototypes and deliver them to communities in rural areas of Guatemala. We are continuing to push this technology forward with the help of MEDIC.

If you would like to support projects like the BiliSol and others, you can donate to our organization at medic-nc.org/support/. If you would like to join our Collaborative, you can contact us at info@medic-nc.org







MEDIC Launching Inaugural Fundraising Campaign

MEDIC Launching Inaugural Fundraising Campaign

Nonprofit Seeks to Bridge Valley Between Ideation and Commercialization

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — The Medical Innovators Collaborative (MEDIC), bridging the valley between ideation and commercialization, is launching its inaugural innovation fundraising campaign October 16-27, 2017.

The effort comes as the 501(c)(3) nonprofit wraps-up its first year of increasing the pipeline of new biomedical products and startups within North Carolina while immersing local students in an industry environment.

“Starting in 2018, we will be developing 15 biomedical technologies every year, training up to 75 students in medical product development across the state. This will lead to up to five new biomedical device companies in North Carolina every year,” MEDIC President Andy Taylor announced at a recent RTP 180 event on biomedical engineering.

Located at The Frontier in Research Triangle Park, MEDIC is an open, collaborative space bringing together innovators and entrepreneurs such as academics, caregivers, industry professionals, and students in the development of quality medical technologies. To-date, MEDIC has been funded through grants from the Research Triangle Foundation and the Lineberger Cancer Center. In addition, 14 companies have pledged to donate services towards their cause including Citrix and Jenkins, Wilson, Taylor & Hunt.

“The services these organizations are providing have given us the capability to drive real medical innovation in the state;” Taylor said, adding, “It also allows us to immerse the students we work with in an environment of industry experts, teaching them the tools of the trade as they develop real medical products.”

MEDIC is looking to raise $50,000 in the upcoming campaign.  Each gift toward the organization will support the development of new life-saving devices, the training of the next generation of the medical technology industry, and help build the economy of North Carolina by starting new companies and creating new jobs.

Tim Martin, Assistant Director of KickStart Venture Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and advisor to MEDIC, said, “The medical community of North Carolina is excited about the programs MEDIC is providing. If we can unite the community around this campaign and build support across the state, we will have no problem raising the funds we need to continue developing lifesaving medical technology.”

To learn more and support the mission of MEDIC, visit medic-nc.org and be sure to follow MEDIC on Facebook and Twitter.

The Medical Innovators Collaborative (MEDIC) is a nonprofit spinout of the UNC & NC State Biomedical Engineering Department supporting the development of new medical technologies in North Carolina. We do this by providing innovation training, industry relevant professional seminars, and student internships focused around creating life-saving devices. We are an open and collaborative space bringing together innovators and entrepreneurs including academics, caregivers, industry professionals, and students. For more information visit medic-nc.org.