Innovation Profile: Rabih Darouiche, M.D.
Rabih Darouiche, M.D., is VA Distinguished Service Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Medicine and Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine/Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center Houston.
Q | What would you consider to be your most successful innovation?
A | Over the past two decades, we had a total of 15 issued patents that address various methods for preventing a variety of device-related infections. Those inventions focused on a variety of catheters and surgical implants. Although many of the issued patents resulted in FDA clearance of a dozen of surface-modified devices, some of those devices are more successful than others in terms of recent escalation of the adoption of insertion of clinically useful devices. At the present time, the most increasingly adopted surface-modified device is the recently FDA-cleared Absorbable Antibacterial Envelope that is placed around cardiac implantable electric devices (CIED).
Q | What spurred this innovation?
A | About half of the 2 million cases of health care-acquired infections that occur each year in the United States are associated with foreign devices. The production of new types of devices, increase in the implantation of foreign devices and the escalating trend of operating on an older and sicker population of patients have led to an increase in the annual cases of device-related infection. That is why our team became interested in preventing various types of device-related infections, including infection of cardiac implantable electric devices, such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD). In general, a successful and comprehensive multidisciplinary plan for preventing infection of cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators can remarkably enhance the quality of patient care.
Q | What are the unique benefits of your innovation that make it a valuable solution?
A | Infection of cardiac implantable electric devices is associated with major morbidity, can result in death, and is very expensive to manage. The purpose of the Absorbable Antibacterial Envelope is to stabilize and prevent migration of the pacemaker/defibrillator as well as reduce the incidence of infection of the cardiac implantable electric devices. This is achieved by placing around the cardiac implantable electric device a resorbable mesh that is coated with a polymer, which contains antibiotics active against the vast majority of pathogens that could cause infection of the pocket that contains the implanted generator, cardiac valves and bloodstream. The Absorbable Antibacterial Envelope is a resorbable mesh that is placed around cardiac implantable electric devices at the time of placement of pacemakers and defibrillators.
Q | What resources were helpful to you when you were first starting out?
A | Taking into consideration that policy indicates that all of our inventions are assigned to the employer, we were fortunate to convince the Baylor Licensing Group to do due diligence for our first invention then have an external patent lawyer assess the invention and submit to the United States Patent Office. Establishing partnership with industry is very essential as long as preliminary data are very promising.
Q | What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs or innovators?
A | I would humbly provide aspiring innovators the following advice: 1) It would be proper and more productive to assign the rights of potential patents to the employer; 2) Do not give up on a promising project; and 3) Discuss with and seek assistance from the very professional Baylor Licensing Group; 4)Don’t give up if you get rejected. The first is the hardest!