Where do great ideas come from and how do you make them happen?
Matt Campisi, a co-founder of UE LifeSciences, visited CSL Behring’s global headquarters in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, this week to share his entrepreneurial journey at an R&D-sponsored Innovation Town Hall. For Campisi, who co-created a new way to screen for breast cancer, it came down to a personal passion, a key creative partnership and an unrelenting drive to solve a problem.
The problem: A lack of access to breast cancer screening in the developing world.
The personal passion: Campisi’s wife - and the women in her family - carry the BRCA gene associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
The creative partnership: Campisi, who’s from Long Island, New York, formed a partnership with a researcher from another part of the world – India – who also had a wife with an elevated genetic risk of breast cancer.
An unrelenting drive fueled Campisi in the lean years of not-quite-right prototypes and all the messy fits and starts of scientific innovation. He said the road was often bumpy.
“You have to have fairly thick skin to be doing this,” Campisi told hundreds of CSL Behring employees.
But the efforts paid off with the FDA-cleared, radiation-free device called the iBreastExam. Campisi says social health workers around the world have used the scanning technology to screen 250,000 women so far. Next up, Campisi said UE LifeSciences plans to use its software platform, which closely tracks usage and data, to tackle another major women’s health issue: cervical cancer.
Campisi’s entrepreneurial odyssey serves as an inspiring case study for CSL Behring, a growing company that aims to become more robust, more creative and more innovative, said Diana Lanchoney, Vice President Clinical Pharmacology & Translational Development.
“This story tells us that sometimes less is more,” she said.
Campisi and his small team sought simplicity and worked within tight constraints, an approach that’s often overlooked in favor of the biggest, newest, most sophisticated solution. Think of the ingenuity needed in 1970 to avert disaster and return the U.S. space mission Apollo 13 safely back to earth, Lanchoney said.
“Our challenge to ourselves is: How do we do it simpler? What are the experiments worth doing? How do we assess success and results that matter?” she said.
The iBreastExam device has received high marks for accuracy and scans have a low price point – essential for becoming part of the health care system in the developing world. UE LifeSciences also requires any clinic using the screening tool to give patients a pathway to treatment. For every 1,000 women screened, about five will need a biopsy and, potentially, cancer treatment.
“It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if you can’t make a clinical difference to someone,” Campisi said.