Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. It’s dangerous and often deadly. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 250,000 people die from sepsis each year, and it is a leading cause of hospitalization in the U.S.
What if a simple test could identify the onset of sepsis as soon as it occurs? Better yet, what if wearable technology was available to alert doctors about sepsis in a patient before they ever show symptoms?
This may be possible in the future thanks to Stony Brook University’s participation in the federal government’s new BARDA-DRIVe initiative.
The initiative, launched by the Division of Research, Innovation and Ventures (DRIVe), will be overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
BARDA has selected Stony Brook’s Center for Biotechnology as one of eight national accelerators across the country to assist in scouting faculty innovators and businesses that are developing health security technology that meets the program’s goals. The initiative plans to focus first on sepsis and the early detection and diagnosis of infections that threaten national health. More goals will be identified over time.
“National health security is essential for optimum public health, enabling our society to thrive,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. President Stanley is a biomedical researcher who specializes in emerging infectious diseases. He also chairs the Innovation Committee for the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.
“With a proven record of research, discovery, innovation and product-development in the biomedical sciences, Stony Brook’s Center for Biotechnology is poised to become an important contributor to the BARDA-DRIVe initiative,” he said. “I am certain that the Center will advance and accelerate research discovery, and strategically collaborate with biotech companies to find solutions to better manage sepsis and emerging national health issues.”
“Federal organizations can’t possibly reach all of the innovators that may be able to help in these areas,” said Diane Fabel, director of operations for the Center for Biotechnology. “Our job is to uncover those opportunities. We will also take a close look at discoveries that may not deal directly with early detection of infection, but that could be re-focused toward health security.”
As an accelerator, the Center essentially functions as a bridge between the federal government and small local companies and faculty innovators, helping to nurture their research and ideas and develop a “pathway” to eventual commercialization and product development.
Stony Brook has already spent decades helping researchers realize the commercial potential of their work, Fabel said. Since 1983, it has supported dozens of companies in developing cutting-edge technology for smarter healthcare. In 2014, the Center received designation as a Research, Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH).
The Center is also continuing to impact the role and scope of academic research.
“Working side-by-side with the faculty, there’s a cultural shift that’s happened. We expand the faculty’s perspective so that they can understand the commercialization process and learn to see how what they do in the lab can translate into helping people in concrete ways,” Fabel said.
Participation in DRIVe will further cement Stony Brook’s position as a leader in innovation and translation of academic discoveries into the commercial sector, placing the University on a global platform, Fabel said.
“Being a part of DRIVe allows us to build on past successes and expand the services we can offer,” Fabel said. “We’ve learned a lot, and now we’re applying that in ways that can help patients and promote national health security.”