It has been a busy year at UPMC Enterprises. Here at the innovation and commercialization division of UPMC, our Digital Solutions and Translational Sciences teams have been hard at work applying research and cutting-edge technology to improving health care.
While we’ve accomplished a lot in 2019, several achievements stand out — we’ve launched new portfolio companies, stepped up our efforts in a new and exciting focus area, and watched a company we’ve worked with closely for several years take the next big step in its evolution.
Read on for details on a handful of the top Enterprises stories this year. And keep your eye out for even more exciting news in the coming year as we keep pushing to make life changing medicine happen.
Focus on Translational Sciences takes shape
Two years after UPMC’s $200 million commitment to advancing new treatments and business opportunities based on the power of human immune system, the Translational Sciences team at Enterprises is now in high gear.
What started as a small team focused on commercializing the promising science coming out of the UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center (ITTC), has grown into a team nearly 20 strong and already seeing impressive progress.
The team, led by Executive Vice President Jeanne Cunicelli, is launching five new companies, seeding more than 25 programs, and managing an extensive pipeline of opportunities.
Those opportunities have moved beyond a handful of initial areas of interest in cancer immunotherapy, transplant, aging, and chronic diseases. Today, the focus is on nearly all areas within life sciences, including therapeutics, ranging from new chemical entities to previously developed drugs that leverage novel delivery methods, as well as diagnostics, and enabling technologies such as genomics.
With top talent on the team and partnerships with world-class academic researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, there is tremendous potential for this new and exciting focus area to lead to life-changing treatments and successful companies.
Need for infectious disease expertise creates opportunity
Harnessing world-class clinical experts at UPMC and the reach of telemedicine technology, Enterprises in May created Infectious Disease Connect (ID Connect), a portfolio company dedicated to providing clinical consultations to hospitals across the U.S.
The company is helping alleviate a national shortage of infectious disease physicians at a time when there is growing concern over health care-related infections, drug-resistant bacteria, and the need for more effective antibacterial stewardship.
While ID Connect, which is led by President David Zynn, will focus initially on partnering with the more than 4,000 U.S. acute care hospitals with fewer than 300 beds, Zynn plans to expand into additional markets and invest in the company’s technology platform.
First company spins out from Translational Sciences focus area
With the development of Translational Sciences at Enterprises, it was only a matter of time before UPMC launched its first biotech company.
BlueSphere Bio was announced in July, marking the first UPMC-based company to emerge from the work of the Translational Sciences team at Enterprises.
With an experienced biotech executive at the helm of the T-cell therapies company, BlueSphere is focused on creating personalized therapies for cancer. The company named industry veteran David Apelian, MD, PhD, MBA, as the company’s CEO.
Co-founded by a team of University of Pittsburgh researchers, BlueSphere’s technology includes the TCXpress platform, which is developing rapid, personalized T-cell therapies that harness a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer.
Read our blog post: “CEO named for first UPMC Enterprises’ Translational Sciences spin-out”
Health Catalyst takes a big step forward with IPO
A much-anticipated event in the digital health world took place this summer as Health Catalyst debuted on the Nasdaq exchange in July.
The data analytics company, which has been in the UPMC Enterprises portfolio since 2015, was one of several digital health “unicorns” — private companies valued at $1 billion or more — to have a successful initial public offering (IPO) of stock.
After several years without a digital health IPO, despite billions of dollars of venture capital invested in the space, industry watchers had been wondering when some of the promising digital health companies were going to go public.
Utah-based Health Catalyst, which formed in 2008 when a team of health care veterans set out to solve the data and analytics problems they faced throughout their careers, proved a success as it raised a total of $209.3 million from investors in the offering.
UPMC, which remains an investor, development partner, and key customer of Health Catalyst, is excited to watch the next phase of the company’s growth.
Read our blog post: “Health Catalyst becomes latest UPMC Enterprises portfolio company to go public”
RxAnte evolves with comprehensive pharmacy service
UPMC Enterprises portfolio company RxAnte started as a medication adherence analytics platform but added significant new capabilities this year when it launched a transformative direct-to-member pharmacy service.
Called Mosaic Pharmacy Service, the patient-centric program addresses common adherence problems, which cost the U.S. health care system billions of dollars a year, through a range of services designed to improve medication adherence for Medicare populations. The services include live patient consultation, comprehensive medication review, ongoing care, and medication delivery.
Mosaic expands upon RxAnte’s work with health plans and care providers by identifying and intervening with patients at risk of medication therapy problems by helping them manage complex medication regimens, consolidate their prescriptions, and ensure they receive the correct medications and refills in easy to use dosage packs.
Enterprises and RxAnte, which has been part of the Enterprises portfolio since 2016, are eager to see the advancement of this transformative business.
Vivify Health acquired by UnitedHealthcare’s Optum division
Vivify Health, a company that had been in the Enterprises’ portfolio since 2016, was reportedly snapped up by Optum, a division health insurance giant UnitedHealthcare, according to CNBC.
Vivify Health is a leading mobile population health solutions company focused on remote patient monitoring. At UPMC the company provides range of solutions covering high-, rising-, and at-risk patients, and is the first end-to-end remote care management platform to utilize consumer electronics, wireless health devices, and the cloud.
UPMC Enterprises announces $1 billion commitment to life sciences investments
The Translational Sciences team at UPMC Enterprises will be investing $1 billion by 2024 to develop new drugs, diagnostics, and devices.
Meet the Executive: Wendy Zellner, Vice President of Public Relations at UPMC
At UPMC, Zellner helps to oversee UPMC’s roughly 15-person media group (covering UPMC and Pitt Schools of the Health Sciences), and personally works with UPMC’s Enterprises, International, Information Services, and Quality divisions to identify and tell the organizations’ best stories to the media.