Article Published: July 21, 2016
Article Published: July 21, 2016
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The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $140,000 to six research groups through its 2016 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include developing a novel vascular access system, a shunt for treatment of fetal hydrocephalus in-utero, a system for stroke rehabilitation, a cell therapy for treatment of aortic aneurysm, a method for treatment of sickle cell anemia, and a novel mechanical device for use in general surgery.
According Rhiza’s Josh Knauer, 67% of marketers are unhappy with their analytics tools because they’re complicated, hard to understand and don’t actually answer critical business questions. Rhiza has introduced a virtual assistant for analytics called Rhizabot which allows the user to ask a question to common virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Cortana and quickly get an answer. Get Josh’s insights on all things bot.
Apogee IT Services has been recognized by Pittsburgh Business Times as one of Pittsburgh’s Fastest Growing Companies. The list recognizes 100 of the greater Pittsburgh area’s fastest-growing, privately held companies. Official rankings and the full list are set to be released by Pittsburgh Business Times on August 19th, 2016.
“We are excited to be recognized by Pittsburgh Business Times”, said Michael Halperin, Apogee’s CEO. “Our team works hard every day to deliver World Class IT to our clients. This honor reflects our team’s dedication, and our efforts to share the value we provide to more and more organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond.”
While Apogee, a privately held company, does not release financial information the company indicates it has more than doubled in size since Halperin joined the company as CEO in April of 2014. At that time, Apogee had 22 employees in its sole office in Sewickley, just north of Pittsburgh. In April 2015, Apogee acquired CMIT Solutions—Boston, expanding operations into New England. The company now totals nearly 60 staff with over two-thirds of those in Pittsburgh. During that time, Apogee’s client base has expanded from about 90 to over 150.
The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG), Western Pennsylvania’s only pure life sciences investment firm, announced that executive leadership of portfolio clients Rinovum Women’s Health, LLC and Better Body Image Corporation (BBI™) were honored at the 2016 Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur of the Year gala. CEO Steve Bollinger of Rinovum and Founder and CEO Dee Baker of BBI™ were named finalists for the Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia region.
“We have sent many portfolio company CEOs to the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program, but none are more deserving than Steve and Dee, who started their companies from scratch,” said John W. Manzetti, President and CEO of PLSG. “With PLSG’s first capital and Steve’s commitment and drive, Rinovum has been able to get onto pharmacy shelves internationally and has helped couples conceive who otherwise would have had a long and expensive journey in front of them. And Dee’s journey to success has also been very inspiring. She is committed to every pitch that she makes for BBI and leads by example through her understanding that healthcare is a global issue. We could not be more proud of both of these tremendous entrepreneurs.”
National Institutes of Health have awarded David Vorp, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering and Associate Dean for Research of the Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt, and colleagues with a grant worth more than $1.54 million to fund their study investigating artificial stem cells in the development of engineered vascular grafts.
Some current regenerative medicine approaches use mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) harvested from the patient to help rebuild or repair damaged or diseased tissues. Dr. Vorp and his team have pioneered the use of MSCs in the development of tissue-engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs), which may be effective in small diameter arterial bypass procedures or arteriovenous access for dialysis. However, MSCs taken from patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease, such as the elderly and diabetics, may be dysfunctional. Furthermore, the use of harvested cells that require extended culture expansion also runs the risk of cellular contamination or transformation, as well as high costs and substantial waiting time before a graft can be made and implanted.
“Fully functional human MSCs secrete a host of biochemicals, including those that prevent blood clotting and those that ‘call’ into the TEVGs important cells from the host, such as inflammatory cells, smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells,” said Vorp. “We have found that MSCs from diabetics, for example, are relatively ineffective in yielding a successful TEVG compared to MSCs from non-diabetics. Considering that diabetics make up a large proportion of patients who need bypass grafts, we needed to find an alternative means to achieve our goal for this significant population.”