East Tennessee Archives

University Innovation Park Embarks on Expansion
Long envisioned as the middle anchor in an ambitious road map toward a thriving life sciences economic development zone, University Innovation Park is embarking on a planned expansion phase that is designed to attract a new set of life sciences companies to East Tennessee. And years of effort are paying off with a burgeoning group of fledgling companies that already call the park home. Development plans for University Innovation Park date back to the early 1990s, when Johnson City, Johnson City Medical Center and East Tennessee State University blueprinted plans for a med-tech corridor that would be home to a complex of medically related businesses.

TBA Assesses State of Biotech Industry
Patience is a virtue. Across the state of Tennessee, biotechnology is a growing business. For those anxious to see Tennessee establish itself on a national stage, however, the progress sometimes seems to be painfully slow. "I think the potential for biotech is that it's going to revolutionize healthcare over the years, and that the more help we can provide our local scientists, the quicker we're going to get there," states Joe Rolwing, executive director for the Tennessee Biotechnology Association. "Help" is on the way … stretching from the mountains of East Tennessee all the way to the Mississippi River.

Building Biopharmaceutical Alliances
Knowing and doing are two different things. Knowing why an amino acid triggers a specific cell response and figuring out how to manipulate that response is nice … well, actually it's brilliant … but if that knowledge can't be turned into action and shared with the larger medical community, then it's really nothing more than unmet potential. Helping researchers make good on biomedicine's promise is at the heart of the mission for Cumberland Emerging Technologies, a joint initiative between Cumberland Pharmaceuticals, Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation. Since its launch in February 2000, CET has remained steadfast in its desire to bring innovative ideas to end users.

Tennessee Group Outlines Future of New Technology
Six years ago, a group from the University of Tennessee decided to leave campus to start up a new company — Atmospheric Glow Technologies — devoted to developing the atmospheric plasma technology they had licensed from the university. About two years ago, the Tennessee alums graduated to a public company and recently put a new notch in their corporate belt by gaining renewed support from the Department of Defense to use their technology in a way that could open up a new chapter in the field of mobile medical sterilization. "Current field sterilization equipment is costly, heavy and power hungry," says AGT president Kimberly Kelly-Wintenberg, whose company is based in the Knoxville Oak Ridge Innovation Valley, a cluster of new tech companies that has sprung up near the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ORNL Lab Examines a New Therapy for Radiation Exposure
The death of a group of mice in Dr. Dabney Johnson's laboratory at Oak Ridge National Laboratory may help researchers find a therapy that can help people live after suffering from high levels of radiation exposure. Divided into various groups, the mice were exposed to deadly levels of radiation. Several groups of mice were treated with the experimental Radilex™, which is being developed as a therapy for neutropenia and anemia following exposure to radiation. More of the mice that received Radilex survived their exposure, says Dr. Johnson. And even while the number of surviving mice was not statistically significant compared to the number that died in the control group, Radilex demonstrated enough efficacy to suggest that the therapy can be fine-tuned as it progresses into more advanced animal studies.

Viruses Prove an Ally in Delivering Targeted Medicine
A decade-long collaboration that began from examining the protein function of viruses has yielded the technology to use viruses as containers for helping the body, rather than harming it. Professors Trevor Douglas and Mark Young saw the possibilities of viruses working as containers for inorganic material and have proven an effective method to redesign viruses and activate protein cages to work as molecule delivery systems. Basically, using the protein cage architecture, synthetic cargos take a ride on the backs of viruses undetected by the rest of the body. The cages can be controlled to release therapeutic agents directly at a target, consequently reducing negative side effects.

Under the Knife
Over the next 25 years, the number of American adults 65 and older will double, topping 71.5 million. Yet sufficient numbers of professionals to deliver their healthcare is far from assured. A study last year by the American Geriatrics Society concluded that the current shortage of geriatricians and other healthcare professionals trained to care for older adults could reach "crisis proportions" during those same 25 years. Meanwhile, Congress has slashed federal funding to help train the next generation of geriatricians.

Long-Term Care Physicians Face Medicare Part D Prescribing Challenges
Ensuring that patients receive their appropriate medications and receive them in a timely manner has become more difficult for physicians in long-term care settings since implementation of the federal Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, and Tennessee is no exception when it comes to physicians' frustrations. That's according to Dr. Ralf Habermann, president of the Tennessee Association of Long Term Care Physicians. A member of the Vanderbilt University faculty, Habermann is an internist with specializations in geriatrics and hospice and palliative care. He estimates that he spends 50 percent of his time with patients who live in nursing homes and other residential care facilities.

The ABC's of LTC
Long-term care insurance is a product whose creation is a direct result of the age wave phenomenon of the baby boomer generation. As a generation that's projected to live longer than their parents but also need more assistance as they age, the boomers have asked for insurance protection for future costs associated with medical and standard living assistance. The Tennessee Health Care Association Web site ( states that nursing home costs in Tennessee range from $2,000 to $4,700 per month.

Physician Spotlight: Dr. Forrest Lang
In this age of computerized, robotic, high-tech medicine, the most important diagnostic tool in any doctor's little black bag is still the ability to communicate with the patient. Very few physicians realize this more than Dr. Forrest Lang of East Tennessee State University's James H. Quillen College of Medicine. Lang is in the field of communication.

Baptist, Triad Strike Deal
This time last year, the future of Baptist Health System was uncertain. They suffered a staggering level of debt — $217 million — and they didn't have enough cash to make needed renovations and buy new medical equipment. All of that changed after a specially-called meeting in mid-June where the board unanimously voted to partner with Triad Hospitals, Inc., of Plano, Texas. "This partnership will take us from $217 million in debt and not enough cash to buy equipment and renovate buildings to a new organization with zero debt and $40 million credit," said Richard Cramer, chairman of Baptist's board of trustees.

KAPA Allows Local Physicians to Assist Underserved in Organized Fashion
Nearly 400 Knox County doctors have already signed on to Knoxville Area Project Access (KAPA), a grass roots effort now underway to recruit a network of area healthcare providers committed to treating the community's poor. The movement is rapidly gaining strength. Since late March, the number of participating physicians in the network has more than doubled, from 150 to 379. Within the next year, KAPA plans to double that number to accommodate Knox County's uninsured population of approximately 62,000. "This is such an exciting time for residents of Knox County," said KAPA executive director Kimberly Weaver, PhD.

New Studies Cast Fresh Light on MS Drugs
Researchers typically focus on the value of new drugs that are being pushed through the pipeline. But a pair of new studies on a 10-year-old therapy for multiple sclerosis is underscoring some hidden long-term gains for patients. Dr. Omar Khan, an associate professor of neurology at Detroit's Wayne State University and a prominent MS expert, has concluded that a new study of Copaxone┬« (glatiramer acetate injection) shows that the drug — made by Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries — continues to help protect patients after they fail to respond to Avonex┬«.

The Bottom Line
Employee salaries and benefits can comprise over 60 percent of your practice's overhead. Are all of your employees contributing to the success of your practice, or are marginal employees hurting both the productivity and morale in your practice? Team building in a medical practice setting is probably more important than in any other business. Staffers must interact with patients and other staff on a regular basis. Often, staff members must fill in or cover for other employees that are on vacation or simply overwhelmed with spikes in work load. Any friction or animosity is quickly sensed by patients and employees alike and creates a negative, less than optimal atmosphere.
By Bill Morris

Healthcare Providers Capitalize on GOZA Incentives
Mississippi healthcare providers are capitalizing on benefits provided by the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act (GOZA) of 2005, passed by Congress eight months ago to supply significant economic incentives to rebuild the Gulf Coast and to attract new investments to the affected areas. "In general, incentives that can best be utilized by the medical community include the fact that GO Zone bonus depreciation will make it less costly for a medical group to expand or build a new clinic building or to purchase expensive diagnostic equipment," said Paul Varner, leader of the tax group at Butler Snow O'Mara Stevens & Cannada, PLLC.

Shipley Named Director of HVMC Lung Center
Ann Shipley has been named director of the lung center at Holston Valley Medical Center. Shipley is a graduate of Virginia Intermont College, Bristol, Va., where she received a bachelor's degree in management and leadership. She earned a diploma in respiratory care at Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Va., and an associate's degree in respiratory care from Roane State Community College in Harriman.

UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Biological Sciences Appoints Director
Dr. Gary S. Sayler, Beaman Distinguished Professor of Microbiology, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, has been appointed the first director of the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Joint Institute for Biological Sciences. Sayler received a doctoral degree in bacteriology and biochemistry in 1974 from the University of Idaho.

Marty Runyan Achieves ASTD Certification
Marty Runyan, an organizational development professional with Wellmont Health System, has been recognized by the American Society for Training and Development as a certified professional in learning and performance. To achieve certification, Runyan completed a two-part process that included a knowledge test and comprehensive work product. Certification provides a means for workplace learning and performance professionals to prove their value and knowledge of the field.

Dr. Aaron Bussey Joins BMH Acitive Medical Staff
Endocrinologist Dr. Aaron Bussey has joined Blount Memorial's active medical staff. He will see patients at the Endocrinology Consultants of East Tennessee's office located at 250 Blount Memorial Physician OfficeBuilding in Maryville. Bussey received a bachelor's degree from Austin College in Sherman, Texas in 1990. In 1997, Bussey earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School.

Dr. Testerman Named HVMC Truama Director
Dr. George Testerman, a board-certified trauma surgeon, has been named director of trauma services for Holston Valley Medical Center. Dr. Testerman received his medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis and recently earned a master's degree in business administration from King College in Bristol.

HCMH Partners with Physicians
Hawkins County Memorial Hospital has partnered with two regional physicians' groups to expand the scope of services offered to patients. Joining Dr. Stephen Wilson of Rogersville Medical Associates in providing surgical services at the hospital are the five surgeons of UT Surgical Associates in Morristown. In addition, the University of Tennessee Medical Center radiology department will begin providing radiology services for the facility.

Dr. Malcolm Mathews III, Achieves Recertification
Dr. Malcolm "Mack" Mathews III, a board-certified hematologist and medical oncologist, has achieved recertification as a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine in medical oncology. In addition to his recertification, Dr. Mathews was recently elected to fellowship status with the American College of Physicians.

Wellmont Foundation Board Elects New Officers
The Wellmont Foundation board of governors has elected new officers. John Williams, chief executive officer of the Regional Eye Center in Kingsport, has been elected chairman. Serving as vice chairman is Thomas McGlothlin. Tariq Zaidi and Christopher Correnti were elected to serve as secretary and treasurer, respectively. Erin Downs is immediate past chairwoman of the board of governors.

Sorenson VRS now available through Communication Center for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing
Frontier Health's Communication Center for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing is taking another step to assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing by now offering a video telephone service, or Sorenson Video Relay Service. Sorenson VRS is available for use at the CCDHH office, 2243 Eddie Williams Drive, Johnson City. Using this video telephone service, a person who is deaf or hard of hearing can communicate with another Sorenson VRS user via sign language.