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Week 23 – New Life Again…. With A Twist

Hope everyone is doing well and is safe and healthy. Sometimes the week just gets away from you and before you know it, it’s Friday already. This was one of those weeks. As I’ve said before, we have been fortunate that we have been able to continue to work through the pandemic so I am not complaining. Like so many others, we have made adjustments to how the business operates to accommodate the new normal. Since we are a lab and are making products, we do not have the option of mostly working off-site. That being said, our team has done an outstanding job of adjusting. I have been so impressed watching other businesses within the town and elsewhere. It just shows the ingenuity of small business owners, from restaurants and grocery shops to hardware stores, that they can be creative and make the best of a bad situation. Some of their solutions have been really impressive!

Since we did not have customers, we have not had to be as creative as these folks but nonetheless have had to make changes to the way we work, meet and interact. That being said, life as we knew it will not be coming back at any time soon and required us to make changes to the way we do business. I will miss having in-person all-hands meetings. It was nice to have the comradery of sitting around the table, eating a bagel or lunch and having that personal interaction. We have done well to adapt our meetings to video conferencing so that we reduce any potential long-term interactions. As with any lab and manufacturer, we have learned to add masks and regular hand-washing into our daily routines. Funny to hear the automatic hand wash stations going off throughout the day. It is a simple sound that shows how seriously our team takes this virus and how they are looking out for each other. Could not be prouder of our team.

We are starting to see new “life” coming back to the company on so many fronts. We have begun to allow outside vendors back into the company, having a policy in place to make sure that we keep our folks as safe as possible. So far, every vendor has been respectful of the procedures we’ve put in place which is encouraging. These procedures are in place to protect them as well. We are also beginning to allow our collaborators to start visiting the company. It will be nice to speak with people in person instead of using video conferencing. This will require us to make sure to plan appropriately, but since we are a small company and have a good amount of space, we should be able to tackle the new norm. We are able to continue to perform our work while maintaining safe practices. As shown in the picture, Kyle from our team is

working with Dr. Mauricio Contreras from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (whom I’ve been personally worked with for over 30 years) on developing a benchtop model to simulate blood flowing through a vascular graft. This procedure could be used to evaluate our NuSpun™ Vascular Graft under simulated arterial flow conditions to evaluate different conditions prior to preclinical testing.

This time of year would typically usher in the arrival of college and high school summer interns. Tina and I were really unsure and torn about whether we would have interns in at all based on what was going on. It is not a program that you can virtually run because the hands-on experience is invaluable. We love this program and enjoy helping students learn more about the medical device field. It also gives our team a sense of giving back and teaching the next generation entering the workforce. After setting up the work policy for our team and making sure we have adequate social distance spacing to house these students, we decided to go forward with the program. We were able to interview the students using video conferencing, meet as a team using the same medium to select two candidates and bring them onboard this week, all within one week. While life is a little hectic for me, this program is something I always make time for because I enjoy teaching and working with the students. My goal is to lead by example as to the importance of passing on knowledge and insights of the field.

We continue to drive forward on the work we are conducting. We are making some significant ground on several fronts, from the processes we will be using to make cell culture plates for our collaborators at the National Institutes of Health for retinal disease as well as for COVID-19 research and making drug-loaded NuSpun™ Vascular Grafts for the KidneyX program to developing cell culture techniques that will be applicable for several areas such as devices being developed for Takeda and producing new materials for different cell culture plate applications. Hopefully, we will have some news in the upcoming weeks related to these areas. Stay tuned!

Continue to stay vigilant and keep social distancing, wear a mask where social distancing is not possible to protect yourself and those around you and frequently wash your hands. We need to look out for each other. Continue to support your local businesses as safely and as much as possible. Every little bit helps! Please stay safe and have a great weekend!


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