FAER Report: Anesthesiology Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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September 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 9
FAER Report: Anesthesiology Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship Donn M. Dennis, M.D., F.A.H.A., FAER Board of Directors

The profound historical impact of innovation and entrepreneurism on creating the American way of life is indisputable. It is responsible for the United States’ presence as an economic superpower, and it will become increasingly important to maintaining our national well-being in the future. Entrepreneurial activities have fostered major innovations in medicine that have created the most advanced health care system in the world.

Among physician specialists, anesthesiologists have been at the forefront of developing new technologies that improve clinical outcomes. Despite these victories, we cannot rest on our laurels. As physician anesthesiologists, it is in our and our patients’ short- and long-term interests to pursue the develop-ment of novel technologies (drugs, devices and software) that not only improve outcomes but also streamline the delivery of health care and reduce costs. One way FAER can contribute to this objective is by providing an educational program that empowers physician anesthesiologists in key aspects of successful translational research, product development, technology commercialization and entrepreneurism: the Anesthesiology Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACIE).

Why is ACIE important to physician anesthesiologists?

Effective innovation and entrepreneurial activities are important to our specialty for at least two reasons. First, even though anesthetic- and perioperative-related morbidity and mortality have markedly fallen over the past several decades, we are far from perfect. Many notable challenges await the ingenuity and inventive spirit of anesthesiologists, and productive collaborative development efforts between anesthesiologists in academia and private practice, industry and government regulatory authorities.

Specific examples of “grand challenges” include the development of: 1) anesthetic agents for general anesthesia that are site-specific (e.g., target only the brain); 2) technologies that effectively address (diagnose, prevent and treat) the current national epidemic of drug-induced deaths related to respiratory depression; 3) novel analgesics for the acute and chronic management of pain that are effective and safe (e.g., cause no respiratory depression and have no addictive properties); 4) drugs for general anesthesia that are safe to the brain at all ages (e.g., neither causes postoperative cognitive dysfunction in the elderly nor neurotoxicity in the very young); 5) devices that help clinicians monitor each organ system of anesthetized and critically ill patients; and 6) software that truly helps clinicians make expert decisions.

Second, these innovative activities will promulgate another major benefit to our specialty – prevention of commoditization. “Investopedia” defines commoditization as “When a product becomes indistinguishable from others like it and consumers buy on price alone, it becomes a commodity.” As physicians, anesthesiologists are uniquely positioned to engage successfully in bringing translational medical research to a commercial product. In addition to providing high-quality anesthesia services, we should also encourage physician anesthesiologists to take part in other activities that set us apart and cause us to remain at the forefront of educational and advances in clinical medicine. When we are viewed solely as providers of clinical anesthesia care by the public and politicians, we risk being “commoditized,” particularly in a health care environment with diminishing resources.

What is the ACIE?

The Anesthesiology Conference on Innovation and Entre-preneurship is a one-day, standalone event hosted by FAER. ACIE will occur January 18, 2014, adjacent to the Society for Technology in Anesthesia (STA) meeting in Orlando, Florida, at the Rosen Plaza Hotel.

ACIE significantly expands upon content previously discussed at joint FAER-STA panels related to translational medical research during the 2012 and 2013 STA meetings. In order to be successful in translating innovations into clinical practice, physicians must understand key barriers to success and develop strategies to overcome them. Therefore, the major objective of the ACIE is to educate anesthesiologists in these areas.

We were fortunate to assemble a highly distinguished ACIE faculty. A number of speakers are physicians known for their innovations in the fields of anesthesiology and critical care: Ted Stanley, M.D. (opioid drug delivery), Steven Shafer, M.D. (pharmacokinetic modeling and analyses), Warren Zapol, M.D. (therapeutic use of nitric oxide), and Richard Melker, M.D., Ph.D. (management of airway emergencies). In addition, we have a top-tier group of experts who will discuss key ingredients underlying effective “bench to bedside” product development efforts.

The ACIE is a novel activity that exemplifies FAER’s mission – advancing medicine through research and education.

In closing I would like to thank the FAER Board of Directors for approving the ACIE program, and our corporate and individual sponsors for their generous financial support of the inaugural event.

Please join us in Orlando for the ACIE, and bring your questions and ideas!

Note: I would like to provide a special thanks to other members of the ACIE Planning Committee – Bruce Gingles, Cook Medical, Inc; Evan Kharasch, M.D., Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis; Ted Stanley, M.D., University of Utah; Denham Ward, M.D., Ph.D., ACIE Co-Chair, President & CEO, FAER; and Jim Zaidan, M.D., M.B.A., Chair, FAER BOD, Emory University; and to FAER staff members – Sara Lueders and David Wolfson, CFRE, for their time and assistance in assembling the program.

Donn M. Dennis, M.D., F.A.H.A. is The Joachim S. Gravenstein, M.D. Professor in Anesthesiology, Director of Nanomedicine, University of Florida; Chief Science Officer, Xhale, Inc., Gainesville, Florida.