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CIBOR to Restructure, Move to Wichita State Campus

5/24/2012 8:30:11 AM

Wichita Business Journal by Josh Heck, Reporter

With its research outpacing its funding, Wichita State University’s Center of Innovation for Biomaterials in Orthopaedic Research is restructuring and moving to the National Institute for Aviation Research on the WSU campus.

CIBOR was founded four years ago as a joint venture between WSU and Via Christi Health. That structure will remain intact, but NIAR will manage the operation.

The business had been operating out of office space in northeast Wichita.

CIBOR was formed to find ways to use aerospace composites to make medical devices, potentially jump-starting a new industry in Wichita.

With the change, CIBOR will be overseen by NIAR Executive Director John Tomblin and WSU Associate Provost David McDonald. The scientific staff will be retained and continue to work on existing research projects.

It appears the change leaves out Richard Sullivan, CIBOR’s current CEO. Sullivan joined CIBOR in 2010.

The Center of Innovation for Biomaterials in Orthopaedic Research, founded four years ago as a joint venture of Wichita State University and Via Christi Health, is being restructured and is moving to the National Institute for Aviation Research on the university campus.

CIBOR will remain a joint venture of Wichita State and Via Christi Health, but will be managed by NIAR. CIBOR will be overseen by NIAR Executive Director John Tomblin and WSU Associate Provost David McDonald. The scientific staff will be retained and continue to work on current research projects.

CIBOR has been successful in several areas of orthopaedic device development, with several patent submissions in the area of bone void fillers, spine restoration devices and novel surgical instruments. CIBOR has attracted and completed several contracts for major orthopaedic manufacturers, and has made discoveries that will influence a range of orthopaedic devices, from hip and knee implant design to MRI safety. Notably, CIBOR received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and is developing a battlefield stabilization device for the military.

“The science of CIBOR is actually ahead of schedule, while funding has been slower in developing,” said Paul Wooley, CIBOR’s chief scientific officer, noting that CIBOR has caught the attention of the major trade organizations in the orthopaedic world, MDM and OMTECH.

The move, which was unanimously approved by the CIBOR Board of Directors, will reduce CIBOR’s overhead costs and allow the organization to focus on its mission to use composite materials that have been developed for the aircraft and aerospace industries in order to develop an active medical device industry for the state of Kansas.

“We’re looking at this as a step in the right direction to allow us to focus on the science of materials in orthopaedic research,” said McDonald. “We are committed to helping CIBOR grow in the future.”

CIBOR will continue to be a joint venture between NIAR/WSU and Via Christi Health, and will take the opportunity to adapt the outlines of its original proposal. Both McDonald and Mike Wegner, chairman of the CIBOR board, expressed continued support for the activities of CIBOR.

“We appreciate Rich Sullivan’s many contributions during his tenure as CIBOR’s chief executive officer and his continued support as we take steps to ensure CIBOR’s long-term success,” said Wegner, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Via Christi Hospitals, Wichita.

Tomblin also expressed his support for the restructuring, noting that NIAR/WSU and Via Christi Health have always partnered with CIBOR, which has been a separate entity since 2009.

Over the next few months, CIBOR will move from its uncompleted headquarters and the engineering staff will relocate to offices within NIAR. The biology and animal facilities of CIBOR will remain within the WSU Department of Biology and the Orthopaedic Research Institute at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis.

In this new structure, CIBOR will continue to work with the state of Kansas and seek funding from multiple sources to invest in its transformational technology, including from the Kansas Bioscience Authority for possible support of individual projects.

“We are supportive of CIBOR and would like to see its technology commercialized, bringing jobs to Kansas and new options for patients,” said Tom Krol, director of commercialization for the Kansas Bioscience Authority and a CIBOR board member.