The weeks continue to fly by! Where did June go? I think I notice it more writing this blog because I can’t believe it’s that time again already and another week is in the books. While it is a lot work writing this (like I need another thing to do), I really enjoy being able to let you know what we are thinking, doing and planning. We are making strides on so many fronts, but it is never as fast as you want it to be, mostly on the business side. On the science and engineering sides, things continue to move along at a quick pace. Watching the team working on several different programs all at once is like a fine symphony being composed. While we can hit some bad “notes” from time to time (hey, it is research and development so it is expected), it is exciting to see progress being made on developing new technology and devices as well as the data that is generated with this process. For this week, the team worked on technology related to the Takeda program for gastrointestinal devices, our own vascular access graft technology, a cardiac device for Edwards and materials for a new investigator at the National Institutes of Health. Over the next several months, our goal is to give you an overview of the issues with the current state to treat these diseases and highlight some specific work in these areas. No matter how small the data may be for each of these areas, they are all pieces to a large puzzle. Overall, I hope over time this blog gives you some insight into how our small company works and all of the work that goes into the process.
My wife Tina said to me at work the other day that she had a dream about this week’s blog. Not the most exciting thing to be dreaming about, but I was curious to see what Tina remembered from the dream. I am not averse to getting a weekly topic from a dream. She would know more than anyone what I am thinking about. Now some of you may be thinking “They work together? Wonder how that works?” Honestly, it is the best thing in the world. There is no one that understands more why I spend the time doing this and what is required to keep the company going. It is not a typical 8 hour a day, 5 days a week job so her patience is really required. Plus, I get the benefit of seeing her during the day, even taking a walk to “get some therapy time” to discuss things (so many people around town mention how they see us walking). We have been blessed to have this opportunity and have never taken it for granted.
Back to Tina’s dream. Tina said that she remembers that it was focused on me telling the back story of why I have such a passion for this field. I feel bad for her that this is her dream, but it did give me a topic to write about so I’m glad she had it. I have been fortunate that I have known that I wanted to be a scientist since I was in 7th grade (business owner was never a dream or on my bucket list). I had a science teacher, Mr. Darmofall (could be off on the spelling here since it was many years ago), who was what you would envision a typical science teacher to be: a nerdy looking fellow with a pocket protector that was likely very boring to most folks. While I could see that side of him, I could also see that he had a passion for what he was teaching and that inspired me. I really owe my science career to him and I am forever grateful for him (for all of the teachers out there, you do make a difference and may never know it). I remember him allowing me to start the first science club at Ford Junior High School. He allowed the students to explore how science could be a really cool thing, from static electricity to dissections. The idea that science is cool has never left me. As the saying goes, you never work a day in your life when you love what you do. I am one of the fortunate ones. While I drifted about what science I wanted to major in, from marine biology (not George Costanza from Seinfeld) to biology to eventually biochemistry, the goal was always to help something or someone.
After college, I had no idea what area within biochemistry I wanted to work in (yes, like other fields such as business, there are different sub-specialties you can pursue). It’s not like there was a road map that was taking me into a specific area. It was nerve-racking because I knew zero scientists and couldn’t ask anyone for advice. This is the reason that today we try to talk to as many young people going into the field either through our internship program or young people who just reach out through social media/website so they can get their questions answered and learn more about the field. I was fortunate to land a job at Deaconess Hospital (now Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) in Vascular Surgery Research, working for Drs. Frank LoGerfo and Bill Quist. This is an area that is close to my heart, with both my Nana and father having diabetes. The devices we are working today at the company (e.g. NuSpun vascular graft) could one day help people like them. Landing this job gave me the potential opportunity to help people close to me. While government funded jobs are not going to land you on the rich and famous, they will let you learn a lot about a specific field. I was fortunate to have two people who allowed me to grow as a researcher, to not be afraid to fail and to push myself beyond what was expected of me. For this, I will always be grateful. I was also fortunate to meet Dr. Mauricio Contreras, a plastic surgeon by training. Mauricio and I started around the same time at the Deaconess Hospital. Mauricio and I share the same passion for wanting to help people and treating people the way we want to be treated. It is a friendship and bond that has lasted over 29 years. We have gone through trying times when the research was not working so well or funding had dried up, but we have not wavered in our desire to help people.
Throughout my career, I have met some great people along the way, from surgeons and scientists to college/high school students and strangers interested in what we do. It is these experiences that have formed what is BioSurfaces today. My mission has not changed. My passion still runs strong. We are here to find a way to help people overcome some tough diseases. Hopefully, we will be able to fulfill this mission and complete the dream that was formed so many years ago.
Have a great weekend!
BTW - Next week's post will be on Wednesday since no one will really read the blog on the 4th of July. I know I wouldn't.