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Zoning In with Dr. Vijay Goel

By combining an advisory board of musculoskeletal product manufacturers with the clinical and bioengineering faculty at UC San Francisco and University of Toledo, The Center for Disruptive Musculoskeletal Innovation (CDMI) seeks to jointly define issues that hinder innovation and ideal patient outcomes, then use university resources to identify potential solutions. These solutions will be pursued with a common funding pool that supports graduate student research.

CDMI will fund proposals from various disciplines, including material science, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, biosensors, implant design, information technology, healthcare economics and advanced imaging.

Dr. Vijay Goel is Co-Director of the Center. BONEZONE® spoke to Dr. Goel about CDMI’s mission and initiatives.

BONEZONE: CDMI hosted its launch meeting in July. Which research proposals were chosen for initial funding?

Goel: At our Center Launch meeting that was held last July, the industry advisory board (IAB) and faculty focused the center research activities on areas that can improve value in musculoskeletal care by identifying cost drivers and improving outcome durability through technological innovation. We defined areas of shared interest that include multi-center clinical outcomes and cost data, quantitative measures of functional outcome that can be used to assess treatment value, techniques to reduce surgical site infections, predictors of proximal junctional kyphosis, and sensors, materials and screening models for bone healing.

BONEZONE: Pre-market U.S. regulatory processes and coverage/reimbursement uncertainties have led to a decline in venture funding and FDA submissions in orthopaedics. Can you explain how CDMI’s focus on “technology pull” will counteract that trend?

Goel: The CDMI is an ecosystem for innovation where faculty learn about unmet industry needs through open discussion. These conversations frame a priority list of industry-inspired fundamental research questions that serve as targets for center faculty platform technologies. In this fashion, the center becomes a conduit between industry needs and the academic research base, and a support mechanism for fundamental research that industry can’t do in-house.

BONEZONE: What else should industry professionals know about the Center?

Goel: The National Science Foundation Industry & University Cooperative Research Program (NSF I/UCRC) model is an ideal means to bridge academia to industry in a manner consistent with each groups inherent organizational structure and purpose. In an era of healthcare reform and reduced government spending on biomedical research, the CDMI fosters a symbiotic relationship where university faculty help industry build value through technological innovation and industry supports graduate education through sponsored research. Ultimately, the CDMI is more about jointly defining the problem, than finding specific solutions.

BONEZONE: What is your greatest challenge today?

Goel: Changes in the healthcare industry due to Affordable Care Act regulations and economic downturn. Stricter FDA regulations and policies, plus new regulations for 510(k) clearance, have created tremendous tumult in the industry. New regulations require more data on new devices. Companies and innovators are taking their ideas to the EU first for CE Mark approval. Reimbursement issues persist despite proven effectiveness of spine surgery. Disruptive device company business models will overhaul the industry. As the healthcare environment changes, so too does the business model for providers and device companies.

BONEZONE: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Goel: Tap the brain power at the academic institutions to work with industry and the surgeons who are in the trenches, to design and develop the most innovative and cost effective technologies.

Contact Information:
Dr. Vijay Goel
Mailing address: 5046 NI, MS 303, College of Engineering, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH 43606
Ph: 419-530-8035
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