ASU adds experts in health policy, tech commercialization

January 21, 2010

By hammersmith

As the spring semester begins, Arizona State University is welcoming two significant additions in important segments of its bioscience enterprise.

Denis Cortese, the former president and CEO of Mayo Clinic, will join ASU’s faculty in February to direct ASU’s new Health Care Delivery and Policy Program. Lee Cheatham, previously the director of the Washington Technology Center in Seattle, is already on campus as the Biodesign Institute’s director of operations and general manager of Biodesign’s Impact Accelerator.

In their respective roles, Dr. Cortese and Dr. Cheatham will take on some of the more vexing challenges in the biosciences and health care, including how to deliver high-value health care, how to bring effective new treatments into the clinical setting more quickly, and how to move new discoveries from the laboratories of university researchers through the commercialization process.

Denis Cortese

Dr. Cortese will have joint faculty appointments in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and in the School of Health Management and Policy in the W. P. Carey School of Business. He said that reforming the delivery of health care will require a broadly interdisciplinary approach.

“How do we design a delivery system that keeps people healthy instead of just takes care of them when they are sick? That means looking at a myriad of things, including the environment in which care is delivered, to changing the way people are paid, to allowing physicians to practice medicine in a way that makes sense for patients,” he said.

“Our country should have the highest value health care system in the world. It should not strive to simply have cheaper health care.”

Under Dr. Cortese, the Health Care Delivery and Policy Program will track scientific literature and outcome metrics that can provide insight into what practices provide high-value care–which Dr. Cortese said can be measured by examining patient outcomes, safety, patient satisfaction, and cost over a span of time. The program will then develop recommendations for policymakers and health-care providers to improve health-care value.

ASU President Michael Crow described Dr. Cortese as a perfect fit for the university’s emphasis on addressing major societal and global challenges.

“Dr. Cortese has unparalleled professional expertise and is an innovative thinker when it comes to envisioning a health-care system that is focused on the patient and is financially sustainable,” Dr. Crow said.

Lee Cheatham

Dr. Cheatham’s roles, as the Biodesign Institute‘s operations director and manager of the Impact Accelerator will be closely related. Alan Nelson, Biodesign’s executive director, said that Dr. Cheatham will oversee facilities and an array of day-to-day responsibilities for the institute. A significant share of facilities management will involve developing and configuring space for the startup firms created through the Impact Accelerator.

Approximately 8,000 square feet will be available at Biodesign’s facilities on ASU’s Tempe campus for the new firms to conduct research, and an additional 25,000 square feet will be developed at ASU’s SkySong facility in Scottsdale.

Between three and five startups will enter the Impact Accelerator within the next few weeks, said Joe Caspermeyer, a spokesman for Biodesign, in GenomeWeb Daily News. Once full funding is secured, between 10 and 15 firms could be housed in the accelerator at any one time, with firms reaching stage in three to five years.

The Impact Accelerator itself is in startup mode, with Dr. Nelson and Dr. Cheatham working to secure $5 million to $10 million in funding to sustain the initial accelerator companies as they move through the “valley of death” between technology discovery and commercialization.

“There is a body of work that’s been done in the area over the last five years that now is ready to be considered for commercialization,” Dr. Cheatham said in the State Press. “Our job is to take the research and turn it into something that can be put into a product.

“To successfully create academic startups, the great ideas and innovation coming from academic research must focus on reducing the early-stage risks, which is a place where many companies fail,” he said in GenomeWeb Daily News.

For more information:

Biodesign program will turn research into dollars,” State Press, 01/20/2010

Biodesign Institute appoints operations director,” ASU news release, 01/05/2010

Biodesign Institute Raising Funds for Startups,” GenomeWeb Daily News, 12/22/2010

ASU lures latest heavy hitter for Biodesign,” Arizona Republic, 12/21/2010

Mayo CEO joins ASU to lead health care policy program,” ASU news release, 12/08/2009