MED-SEG seeks approval from FDA

Meredith Somers

Business and science students found a common ground this past Wednesday at a seminar presented by the Quinnipiac chapter of the scientific research society, Sigma Xi.

The presentation, led by Fitz Walker Jr., the president and CEO of Bartron Medical Imaging, Inc., was titled “From Outer Space to Medical Imaging.”

Standing in front of a PowerPoint presentation, Walker related to those present, the nature of Bartron, and its relation of science to industry.

“[Bartron] is a way that small business and government work together. We’re a joint communication of business and science,” Walker said. “All business is a transfer of technology.”

With a corporate office in Maryland, and lab in New Haven, Bartron specializes in combining highly developed and modern technology from NASA, with medical equipment. This in turn promotes and progresses medical practices and studies in ways never seen before.

Walker pointed out, however, that this combination of scientific powerhouse and everyday commerce is not foreign: Tang, the popular orange drink, as well as the microwave, are both examples of this way of pairing.

In order to include the business-minded at the seminar, and to more easily explain how Bartron synthesizes this business/science transaction, Walker used a product currently in the process of being approved for commercial use: the MED-SEG HSEG Viewer.

“The MED-SEG breaks down already existing digital images that we cannot see as well [as doctors would like], into regions and segments,” Walker reported.

The diagnostic tool combines commonly used x-ray images, with high-power viewing that can be likened to what satellites use.

“From space, NASA can look at something on one blade of grass,” Walker said. “We want to be able to see one cancer cell in a breast.”

Walker told the audience that once the idea for such an image was conceived, the business aspect came into full play through roughly a dozen steps.

The steps ranged from the basic exploration of commercial prospects and negotiating terms, to obtaining and possessing the right (and often complex) software to make the MED-SEG work correctly.

“Sometimes [you] may have come too soon with your idea,” Walker warned. “Technology might not be up to where it needs to be to get the product to pertain to modern day.”

After many dead ends and alteration, Walker was able to present the MED-SEG to the University of Connecticut’s dental school in 2003. After seeing the new way a jaw bone could be observed and studied through the images, the school bought the first machine.

The MED-SEG is currently seeking clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, and scientists are also working on making the machine applicable to the CAT Scan and MRI.

“Creativity in marketing is critical,” Walker said in conclusion. “You need a good relationship with the inventor, and patience, because this transfer of technology takes time.”

Walker’s seminar was not lost upon the students.

“I think it’s important to be doing this kind of thing,” said Timothy Pinkham, a biological medical science major. “[Bartron] is expanding on already existing technology, and that’s what good inventions and inventors do.”

James Kirby, associate professor of chemistry, said the combination of business and technology was a good notion to consider for one of the Sigma Xi seminars.