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A Valuable Partnership Summa and ABIA

Written by Scott Weiner, M.D. , Chair, Department of Orthopaedics, Orthopaedic Focus Winter 2010

Summa health system is one of six founding partners of the Austen Bioinnovation institute in Akron (ABIA), which is focused on patient-centered innovation and commercialization at the intersection of
biomaterials and medicine.

ABIA was established to expand the city’s legacy in biomaterials science and to pioneer the next generation of life-enhancing and life-saving biomedical innovation. It is dedicated to becoming a global leader in biomaterial and medical research, education, clinical services and commercialization and a driver of transformative economic, social and health benefits for the greater Akron area.

ABIA is comprised of four Centers of Innovation that are designed to enhance translational research driving biomedical commercialization and community transformation:

  • The Center for Biomaterials and Medicine (CBMM) develops novel biopolymers and polymer-hybrids with applications in orthopaedics, wound care and other areas of medicine. At CBMM, innovation travels from bedside to bench to bedside by addressing problems encountered by clinicians and patients, developing solutions and assisting clinicians in implementing solutions to improve care.
  • The Medical Device Development Center (MDDC) allows clinicians to collaborate with scientists and engineers from academia and industry, accelerating products from concept to commercialization by offering a unique set of services and resources along the path of product development.
  • The Center for Simulation and Integrated Healthcare Education (CSIHE) is creating a collaborative space where innovative technologies and methodologies are tested and used to improve the performance of the provider teams and early responders. The training offered by CSIHE is gaining national distinction as it improves patient care by providing every member of the healthcare team with the opportunity to work together, enhance competency, develop new skills in numerous areas and build confidence in one another.
  • The Center for Clinical and Community Health Improvement (CCCHI) is working to improve community healthcare through health promotion, access and delivery.  By developing new methods for health promotion, execution of clinical trials and implementation of new processes for education, diagnosis and community care, CCCHI provides medical innovation with a new channel to access clinical trials and to impact the community.

As a unique alliance of public, private and philanthropic institutions, ABIA leverages individual strengths and collective mass to positively impact the Akron community’s health beyond the capacity of any one institution. Through working with ABIA, those at founding member institutions have an opportunity to work on ideas, problems and solutions with the institution's unique resources and assets.

Summa’s Department of Orthopaedics is integrally involved with ABIA research activities. Several residents and attending physicians are searching for solutions to orthopaedic problems and collaborating with the basic scientists from NEOUCOM and The University of Akron.

Work is on-going in the evaluation of interactions between polymers, growth factors and biomechanical solutions for rotator cuff repairs, articular cartilage defects and nerve injuries.

There are plans for greater involvement between organizations as our department is looking to recruit
additional M.D.s/clinical scientists and exploring buy-out time for current surgeons to devote time specifically to research.

Similarly, ABIA Ph.D.s attend Summa’s orthopaedic grand rounds surgeries and spend time in physician offices looking for clinical problems in need of solutions. This has stimulated excitement for everyone as we try to improve care for our patients. Several of our surgeons have developed innovations with the product development teams at Summa and ABIA.

ABIA has developed the infrastructure to explore the legal, patent, product development and manufacturing implications of such innovations with the ultimate goal of creating intellectual property in an effort to spur job growth in the Akron area.

The collective strength of Summa’s Department of Orthopaedics and ABIA has resulted in an excellent
opportunity to bring varying talent and industry to Akron and create job opportunities throughout the community.