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Week 27 – Looking for Signs

I want to start this week’s blog by saying thank you to all of our veterans for their service. We are so appreciative of the freedoms we have due to your sacrifice and service. It’s appropriate that this week started in our nation’s capital as last work week was barely coming to a close. We had two events scheduled for last Saturday. A little crazy considering so many factors could have affected two meetings that we would have no control over, but such is life. We also knew it was going to be a long day (up at 3:15am) so making sure to overcome any tiredness to present would be a challenge. I started the day wiping out Gordon’s Starbuck’s coffee at the airport. I am not sure if I was more upset about Gordon not being able to drink his coffee or the amount of money spent on the spilled coffee. Not a great way to start the day to say the least.

The first item on the agenda was a business pitch that we put together for our KidneyX program. The goal of the KidneyX program, as you may recall from our previous blogs, is to develop the next-generation NuSpun™ Vascular Graft that will locally delivery a drug only to the area where the graft/vein are sewn together (imagine two tubes stitched together so that blood can flow from one tube into the other) in order to control the growth of cells within the vein. Stopping the cells in the vein from overgrowing at the area where they are connected is the biggest complication that any graft faces. We are working on this program with our partners at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Yael Vin is a transplant surgeon who does this procedure on people and Dr. Nikhil Agrawal is an interventional nephrologist who fixes the problems at the graft/vein interface. It is important to have them on the team since they directly deal with the patients. As an added bonus, they are great people who share the same passion for trying to improve care for patients with kidney disease. We worked over the last several weeks prior to the meeting to put together a presentation that has to tell all about what we are doing, what the business model is, what it would cost to fund the program, etc. that needed to be presented in under 5 minutes. That is always fun, but since we have a great working team, we were able to put together a nice presentation. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Nikhil volunteered to present at this meeting due to his affiliation with the meeting’s organizers. Nikhil did a great job presenting our plan to the panel and to the audience in attendance. Always neat to have someone else talking about the technology since it is mostly me doing the presenting.

The second item on the agenda was a meeting with a potential strategic partner related to our NuSpun™ Vascular Graft. This also required us to revise a previous presentation we had recently prepared, based on the company’s suggestions. I never have an issue making revisions when people are trying to improve the presentation. Some people are not good with constructive criticism (I have seen that first hand), but after living in a grant world for so long where everything is so critical, I welcome it. It has been a month of presentations and likely will only get busier as we look to raise funds to bring the NuSpun™ Vascular Graft forward. I was presenting our work to their team from Japan. The set-up was to be around a circular table with the laptop in front of us on the table and their team around me inside a huge conference center. I was fortunate to have my team around the table for support which is always reassuring. That being said, I was nervous to give this presentation. Not sure why since I typically do not get that bothered when presenting our technology. This group was also a friendly group so that was not it either. It is more likely that I was feeling the importance of this meeting, that each meeting can mean potential big changes within the company.

As we began to gather at the table for the presentation, the nerves became to ramp up a bit. Then, something happened that put me completely at ease. As I mentioned in the title, I do believe that there are signs all around us in a spiritual sense (no I am not going to push religion at you but those of you who know me know that it is a part of me). I am sure many of you can relate when you have lost someone in your life that a smell, a vision, etc. let’s you believe that they are with you. For me, it was a pigeon. Yes, a pigeon. As I am getting ready to present, a pigeon lands right next to the table in this huge indoor convention hall. This drew comments from the table from “flying rats” to “hope we don’t get dropped on.” For me, it meant something totally different. Tina’s dad “Shorty” (Salvatore), whom I was very close to, used to race pigeons as a hobby. He was always a big supporter of our company. I saw the pigeon and immediately thought that it was his way to let me know that he was there and rooting for us. I cracked a smile, looked up and then began the presentation. The worry/nervousness at that point went away. I believe the presentation went well and we received positive feedback from the group about our technology. After they meet, we will learn if they are interested in moving forward. Regardless of the outcome, it was good to feel that he was there cheering us on. We have a ways to go but we are up for it. We have a great team around us and will work hard to succeed. We are truly blessed to have such great people on this journey!

Hope you have a great weekend!


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