Employees recognized with third quarter MUSC Innovator Awards

The Office of Innovation is proud to recognize the following individuals and teams as the September 2020 recipients of the “I am an MUSC Innovator” award.

Amanda Cameron, Trial Innovation Network Program manager, South Carolina Clinical & Translational (SCTR) Institute

Problem – Upon the declaration of the pandemic and the surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., it became clear that research was going to be the path forward to combat COVID-19. In order to prioritize our finite resources and reduce any duplication of efforts, a streamlined approach to the coordination of vetting the COVID-19 studies and execution of trials was developed. This process ensures that faculty members on the COVID Clinical Trials Review Committee have the information needed to make informed decisions on the best studies to prioritize and all decisions are relayed efficiently. In addition, the COVID Operations Committee was developed and fast-tracked the start up of approved trials and ensured coordinated study support to activate and conduct these trials to meet the needs of our community quickly.

Impact – The organizing of study requests and tracking COVID-19 studies is still actively underway, and the process is being modified as needed as the pandemic evolves. The current tracking mechanism in place allows for institutional-level reporting of COVID-19-related research being conducted across campus to reduce duplication of efforts and prioritize our finite resources.

Acknowledgements – It takes a village to vet, coordinate and activate studies. This would never have been possible without the amazing collaborative effort of multiple research departments across campus, specifically the Pulmonary Research Department, Research Opportunities and Collaborations, Research Nexus and SUCCESS Center. Clare Tyson, Nexus research coordination and management program manager, SCTR Institute

Problem – At the start of the pandemic, SCTR’s Research Coordination and Management (RCM) was actively coordinating over 90 research studies. The critical challenge we unexpectantly faced was how to expeditiously move our active clinical trials to a remote platform to ensure continuity for our research participants during this unprecedented time. I convened a working group comprised of MUSC research stakeholders to address and remove barriers by leveraging existing resources, developing novel workflows and compiling resources to facilitate continued research activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The RCM has also played a pivotal role in other areas catalyzing COVID-19 research. With the acceleration of COVID-19 research, members of the RCM participate in a COVID-19 Operations Committee, strategizing and brainstorming implementation solutions related to COVID-19 research at MUSC Charleston and MUSC affiliate hospitals.

Impact – The result of the workgroup’s collaboration was a consolidated resource tool accessible to research teams converting their trials to virtual/remote platforms. SCTR’s communication team created the Remote and Virtual Trial webpage to house this information and SCTR SUCCESS Center created a new Remote/Virtual Trials Navigation service to support even further MUSC’s research workforce in conducting remote/virtual studies. https://research.musc.edu/resources/sctr/research-resources/remote-and-virtual-trials. The tool served as a foundation for remote capabilities at our research-naive affiliate hospitals conducting COVID-19 research. The RCM also provides fast-tracked start-up services and study activities for high enrolling COVID-19 clinical trials and has supported consultation to other research teams on how to implement both COVID-19 and non-COVID research trials remotely.

Acknowledgements – This was an extremely collaborative endeavor comprised of representatives from the IRB; University Compliance; Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Office of Clinical Research; Epic Research; Hollings Clinical Trials Office; Investigational Pharmacy Services; Office of General Counsel; SCTR’s SUCCESS Center; SCTR’s Project Management; and SCTR’s Research Nexus Clinic, Lab and RCM. The RCM coordinators were instrumental in the development of this tool, as they were in the trenches bringing to light many of the barriers the workgroup subsequently addressed, and they continue to do an outstanding job, supporting and meeting accelerated COVID-19 timelines.

Joe Vuthiganon, D.M.D., associate professor, Oral Rehabilitation, James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine

Problem – I teach a course called Dental Materials, which is generally a dry topic. The information is about as exciting as reading off the nutrition label for a food product. Being in the first year, most students have no previous exposure to these materials, making it more of an abstract subject. Furthermore, the course is scheduled at a difficult time – mid-afternoon on Mondays and Tuesdays, after students have already had a morning and early afternoon of other classes.

Impact – To make the course more engaging, I crafted lectures themes that are relevant to popular culture – such as Disney, Harry Potter or Star Wars. An audience response system, Poll Everywhere, is used extensively to do periodic check-in questions throughout the lecture, reengage students and provide an anonymous way for students to ask questions. A great feature to use has been Poll Everywhere’s competition feature to do HQ-style review games at the start of each class not only to encourage students to keep up with the material but create an engaging review of the previous class’ material

Jennifer Dahne, Ph.D., assistant professor, Addiction Sciences Division, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and a research member at MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center

Problem – Each year, 21.2 million adults visit a primary care physician and screen positive for depression, but only 30% receive treatment. Nearly all patients (87%) who do receive treatment receive an antidepressant medication alone, despite frequent patient preference for psychotherapy. To extend the reach of evidence-based psychological depression treatment within primary care, Dahne and her team developed Moodivate, a self-help mobile app treatment for depression to be delivered via primary care.

Impact – Via a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer Award (STTR) from the National Institute of Mental Health, the team and I developed and preliminarily clinically evaluated Moodivate. App development was informed by the brief behavioral activation treatment for depression, a well-established, evidence-based psychological depression treatment. In the Phase I trial, Moodivate, versus treatment as usual, led to significantly greater decreases in depression over time, with treatment gains sustained over two months of follow-up. In March of 2020, the team received a Phase II STTR from NIMH to:

• Refine the app based on participant feedback collected during Phase I and expand the app to Android.

• Develop a provider portal within Epic that will give providers the ability to review their patient’s Moodivate treatment progress and outcomes.

• Conduct a large-scale effectiveness trial (N=600 MUSC patients) of Moodivate versus Moodivate +: the provider portal versus treatment as usual.

Acknowledgments – Jack Kustanowitz from MountainPass Technology as well as a number of MUSC colleagues who assisted, including Vanessa Diaz, M.D.; Marty Player, M.D.; and Matthew Carpenter, Ph.D. Also Amy Wahlquist, Amy Boatright, Noelle Natale, Lisa Coles, Liz Hawes, Johanna Hidalgo, as well as Jihad Obeid, M.D., and Leslie Lenert, M.D., and Buck Rogers, Stewart Hulett, Paul Arrington, Brett Berman and Chelsea Ex Lubeskie of the Foundation for Research Development.

Yuri Karl Peterson, Ph.D., research associate professor and assistant director of drug discovery, Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences, College of Pharmacy

Problem – My team’s focus is to improve therapeutic efficacy and safety through predictive modeling of patient specific pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. The end goal is to have the ability to do on-demand, near real-time personalized predictive precision medicine.

Impact: -The team developed PharML.Bind, a complete and publicly available framework and software that can evaluate all known drugs and their binding potential with all structurally characterized drug targets. PharML.Bind is the first component of an expandable framework to train and inference graph neural networks on existing biochemical and clinical data.

Acknowledgments – Jacob Balma, HPE and Aaron Vose, Nanosemi

Scott T. Reeves, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine; Jeff McMurray M.D., assistant professor, Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine; Scott Curry, M.D., associate hospital epidemiologist and assistant professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases; and Stephanie Whitener, M.D., assistant professor, Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine.

Problem – With the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, several acute and critical needs were determined within the department. The first immediate need was the ability to train over 300 faculty, residents and CRNAs rapidly in the proper donning and doffing techniques for personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, there were not readily available training materials available for nasopharyngeal sampling technique for respiratory virus testing.

The second issue was the lack of PPE hoods as a critical need.

Impact – Along with Jerry Reves, M.D., dean emeritus of the College of Medicine and Distinguished University Professor, and Catherine D. Tobin,M.D., associate professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, the team created an instructional video guide detailing safe donning and doffing practices for PPE and safe intubation practices for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. A second process was developed to convert eight-gallon trash bags into hoods that were disposable. This manufacturing process was videotaped and distributed worldwide as well via SimTunes. These are available online for our staff to review. Our process was adapted throughout the United States and in Singapore.

Acknowledgements – Reves, Steve Coultas, Lisa L. Steed, Ph.D., and Connor Lentz for completing the videos and our whole department for creating many other innovative processes such as refurbishing old N95 masks. This was truly was an all hands-on-deck mentality.

Alejandro “Alex” Spiotta, M.D., professor, Department of Neurosurgery, director of the Division of Neuroendovascular Surgery and program director, neurosurgery residency program

Problem – The process and method for accessing the brain through a burr hole is archaic and decades old. Typical systems require a Mayfield clamp, have small screws, are time-consuming and are not MRI-compatible or CT-friendly. For the more than 200,000 patients requiring neuro-navigated surgery for stroke, tumor biopsy or electrode placement for deep brain stimulation, this means increased procedure time and prolonged recovery.

Impact – Working along with other clinicians and the ZIAN team, we developed NaviCAP, a screw-less cranial anchoring port system that installs effortlessly in seconds, is noninvasive and allows for more robust vectoring to access deep brain pathology. The device is self-aligning and quickly anchors to a burr-hole without the use of screws or pins. NaviCAP reduces surgical time and is less invasive than current technology. NaviCAP has been issued nine patents and is exclusively licensed to a commercial partner.

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