Respected and acclaimed as rock stars in the arcane universe of life sciences, global scientists converged in Stockholm in late August this year for the annual Swedish American Life Science Summit (SALSS) meeting, where they unveiled and dissected revolutionary health care platforms. Among them are the use of robotics in surgery, how nanotechnology may make us "forever young,” applications of space technology in life sciences, and the “Moonshot” cancer program initiated by former Vice President Joseph Biden............
“Part of this year’s conference focus was the current transformation of the HealthTech industry, driven by the ICT and tech players rather than by the traditional medtech companies,” said Barbro C. Ehnbom, chairman and founder of SALSS. Also significant, she added, was the participation of numerous women at this year’s summit, led by the keynote speaker Dr. Bahija Jallal, executive vice president at AsraZeneca and head of Medimmune. “ We are proud and glad that so many prominent women are actually SALSS women, including Dr. Jallal, which made this 2017 summit more exceptional,” said Ms. Ehnbom.
One of the little known companies that attracted a lot of attention at the conference was AVRA Medical Robotics, a development-stage company based in Orlando, Florida, that has a new generation of “semi-autonomous medical robots for image-capture, navigation, and tissue targeting.”
Specifically, these “medical robots” perform computer-assisted surgery, with human medical surgeons operating a remote surgical device via a console. In fact, they are not really robots as we know them: AVRA has developed a "novel and truly robotic single-arms platform for the field of aesthetics, skin and wound care as well as dermato-plastic surgery,” said Barry F. Cohen, AVRA’s CEO and founder. The company’s first design integrates software, image guidance, navigation and targeting systems, to allow autonomous needling of skin, he explained.
“The future of surgery will be determined by success in gaining precision access to anny area of the human body with the smallest incisions and deploying therapies to specific tissues, glands and organs,” asserted Alen York, an AVRA senior executive. Limitations in conventional surgeries, he said, are "demanding more autonomous, intelligent robot systems that go beyond the capability of a human being.”
AVRA’S platform focused on needling technology "represents a key breakthrough in aesthetics, wound care, and autonomous drug delivery platforms, integration of artificial intelligence and augmented reality that will allow,” says York, for a new paradigm in surgical training, planning and treatment.
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It began in a small church in Detroit, Michigan, when entertainer Danny Thomas prayed to the forgotten saint of hopeless causes. “Show me my way in life and I will build you a shrine.” From these humble beginnings, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and ALSAC, the hospital’s fundraising organization, have rewritten medical and fundraising textbooks.
Thomas was a struggling comedian who had reached a crossroads in his life when he made his prayer to St. Jude. Should he continue to strive for his dream of show business success or should he give up his dream and find a steady job that would provide for his family? At his moment of uncertainty, St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, entered his life.
Soon after his prayer in that Detroit Church, Thomas began receiving job offers for radio plays, then television commercials and eventually in the new medium of television as the star of Make Room for Daddy. But through all his success, Thomas did not forget his prayer to St. Jude. He intended to follow through on his promise. Initially, Thomas conceived of a children’s hospital.
In 1957, Thomas and more than 100 others who had joined his cause met in the Morrison Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, where they drafted a constitution and by-laws for the “non-profit, non-sectarian, charitable corporation titled ALSAC … dedicated to the parable of the Good Samaritan, to love and care for our neighbor, regardless of color or creed.” ALSAC was officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation on November 1, 1957 by the state of Illinois.
"As ALSAC celebrates its 50th anniversary, we recognize the organization's unwavering support for St. Jude," said John P. Moses, chief executive officer for ALSAC, which was established for the sole purpose of raising funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
“We are immensely proud of the fact that no child has ever been turned away from St. Jude because of an inability to pay. And we at ALSAC know that our success – and the success of the hospital – has been solely dependent on the kindness and generosity of our donors.
ALSAC was founded on the principle of the Good Samaritan. We have been fortunate to know and call as friends hundreds of thousands of good-hearted donors in our half-century of service.”
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The daily operating cost for St. Jude is nearly $1.8 million, which is primarily covered by public contributions
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