How Does a Children’s Hospital Excel in the Discovery and Development of New Therapies?
A hospital environment is a fertile ecosystem for new ideas. Every staff member across Nationwide Children’s has a unique perspective on the challenges faced each day by patients and fellow clinicians and scientists — and every staff member can discover solutions. And when they do, they head to our office. Together, we develop their ideas and innovations and translate them into the commercial sector.
The inventions of our doctors, nurses, researchers and other staff members are transformed into new and improved products and services — gene therapy treatments, surgical instruments, data analysis systems, biofilm-disrupting technologies and virtual reality tools, to name a few — with the power to transform care, not only for our patients, but for children everywhere.
For more than a decade, the Office of Technology Commercialization has played an essential role in ensuring these ideas and innovations find their way into the world. Transfer to Transform, published annually online and in print, shares the story of Technology Commercialization at Nationwide Children's — a story of bold thinkers, exciting new technologies and job-producing startups.
Read on to learn more or download a PDF copy of this year’s edition.
View our archive to download previous issues.
Matt McFarland, RPh
Vice President of Commercialization and Industry Relations
Nationwide Children's Hospital
At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, one of our pillar values is to be agile and innovative. This is evident in our culture of innovation and the work of our world class clinicians and scientists, who are considered thought leaders in their respective fields.
The Office of Technology Commercialization exists to ensure that innovative work is given the opportunity to translate beyond our walls and into the world. New technologies drive economic development in our local, national and global ecosystem, and most importantly, improve pediatric care. Gene and cell therapy, infectious disease mitigation platforms, medical devices, and advanced digital and virtual reality tools are just a few examples from our pipeline.
Over the last 15 years, we have grown our commercialization enterprise at an impressive rate by any standard. Our total deal flow for out-licensing Nationwide Children’s technologies increased by more than 900%. On average, we generated $26 million in commercialization revenue annually from 2017 to 2021. Achieving this level of commercial activity has required tremendous effort and commitment from the organization and our leadership.
While the commercial success we have experienced supports our sustainability, its returns often fall short of the total investment necessary to grow and maintain a research enterprise such as ours. So why do we do it? We do it because we are passionate about making a difference in the lives of our patients and children around the world.
I am humbled to work for an organization that demonstrates its passion through its actions. I am inspired by the ongoing investment in technology transfer at Nationwide Children’s that creates a progressive and lasting impact on the lives of children everywhere. I hope you, too, will be inspired by the stories of novel advances, exciting new technologies and job-producing startups in the following pages of this report.
Dennis Durbin, MD, MSCE, who joined Nationwide Children’s Hospital as its first chief scientific officer in 2018, became the third president of the Abigail Wexner Research Institute (AWRI) at Nationwide Children’s on March 1, 2022. His appointment follows the retirement of John Barnard, MD, from the role.
“During Dr. Barnard’s nearly 20-year tenure, research at Nationwide Children’s grew exponentially, with a four-fold increase in National Institutes of Health funding and an expansion of our research faculty to more than 200 investigators,” says Tim Robinson, chief executive officer of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Dr. Barnard’s leadership brought an impressive array of discoveries that have resulted in even higher-quality patient care, including the first systemic gene therapy approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and more than 16 startup companies are translating our research into clinical practice. Dr. Durbin has large shoes to fill, but we could not have chosen a better leader to continue our legacy of high-impact research into the future.”
Dr. Barnard was a transformational leader who guided AWRI to become one of the most important research institutions of its kind in the country. Through his vision for effectively translating discoveries from the lab to patients’ bedsides, Nationwide Children’s established the OTC and developed core capabilities — regulatory affairs, animal resources, clinical research services, high-end computing and more — in house. The robust infrastructure formed under the collaborative leadership of Drs. Barnard and Durbin allows Nationwide Children’s to support every stage of therapeutic development and technology commercialization.
Commercialization success stories — novel therapies, medical devices and diagnostic tests that have been created by innovators at Nationwide Children’s and brought to market to improve care for children around the world — are a testament to the pioneering minds who helped build this ecosystem and those who will continue to support and lead it. The OTC team is excited to continue to drive technology commercialization at Nationwide Children’s under the leadership of Dr. Durbin. The Office of Technology Commercialization, which collaborates closely with leadership and innovators across the organization to develop new technologies and facilitate their transfer to external partners, congratulates and welcomes Dr. Durbin in his new role.
“The support of institutional leadership has been a cornerstone of our commercialization success at Nationwide Children’s. The OTC is thrilled with Dr. Durbin’s appointment to this position and excited about the possibilities of what we will achieve under his leadership.”
– Matthew McFarland, RPh, PhD
Vice President of Commercialization and Industry Relations
Featured Research Stories
Inventor: Christopher Breuer, MD
Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine
Nationwide Children's Hospital
“It’s probably been 10 years since I started thinking about this approach,” says Dr. Breuer. “But going about this so carefully and with so many incremental improvements along the way has really allowed this to come together as the safest and most effective tissue engineering solution possible right now.”
Inventor: William Smoyer, MD
Vice President of the Abigail Wexner Research Institute
Director of its Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
“It took a long time to get to this point,” says Dr. Smoyer, “but things are finally coming together. I’m first and foremost a clinician, and this has been what I’ve been working toward for my entire career: a new and better treatment option for my patients.”
CEO: Dean Koch
The smallTalk Egg™, available in early 2022, will allow parents and caregivers to bring this brain-enhancing technology into their homes. There is currently content from 7 languages available for use on the smallTalk Egg™ with plans to expand to include more of the rich diversity of languages spoken around the globe.
Inventor: Dr. Paul T. Martin
Principal Investigator in the Center for Gene Therapy
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
“Our goal is not only to provide gene replacement, which will hopefully arrest the disease, but to provide a muscle building therapy on top of that, which will replenish and renew muscle tissues, so it becomes bigger and stronger at the same time. The net effect is that hopefully we could reverse the loss of strength in patients over time,” says Dr. Martin.
Hear Me Read, invented and developed at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is a first-of-its-kind iOS-based software application to help deaf/hard of hearing children achieve reading, speech and language goals through interactive digital storybooks. With the help and guidance of the Office of Technology Commercialization and collaboration from experts in speech therapy, user experience and technology development, the team secured several rounds of grant funding to develop the idea into a usable tool and validate it in a prospective clinical trial. For more information about the clinical trial, or to connect with the inventors, contact: Tech.Commercialization@nationwidechildrens.org.
Dean A. Lee, MD, PhD Named 2021 Innovator of the Year
2021 Abigail Wexner Research Institute Performance Indicators
Nationwide Children's Hospital Startups
When our doctors, nurses, researchers and other staff members have an idea, they head to our Office of Technology Commercialization. Together, we take these ideas and innovations and translate them into the commercial sector, bringing about new patents, startup companies and innovations. All along the way the OTC helps assess, support and make decisions about the innovations and technologies.
Centers and Institutes at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute
The Abigail Wexner Research Institute is organized into centers of emphasis and the Institute for Genomic Medicine, all of which facilitate interdisciplinary team science by transcending traditional academic boundaries. The structure supports discovery, enabled by outstanding shared resources. Each center or institute is home to talented faculty members, staff, graduate students, residents, postdoctoral fellows and other students.
At the Abigail Wexner Research Institute, collaboration, discovery, translation and team science define us. They are our foundation as we seek answers on behalf of children everywhere. Our researchers’ dedication and commitment to the common goal of improving the health and quality of life for children and their families enable them to work together to accomplish more than could be imagined independently.
Office of Technology Commercialization Affiliations
The Office of Technology Commercialization helps develop ideas into promising new technologies to advance the practice of pediatrics and general health care.