BioTalk

Inside the Research Rotation Program at Burst

It’s not often you find something everyone can agree on.

After all, we live in a world of cat people versus dog people, vegetarians versus meat lovers, and even Mayweather versus McGregor.

But here at Burst Biologics, I couldn’t find anybody who wasn’t positively glowing with praise about our company’s research rotation program. In my talks with the company’s research Ph.Ds and lab technicians, it dawned on me how special this program really is.

Lab Techs Versus Research Ph.Ds

To understand why research rotation is such an important part of Burst Biologics, you need to understand the role of a lab technician.

We have several lab technicians who work in the laboratory every day, and unlike at other companies, all of our lab techs have at least a bachelor’s degree in science. Due to their qualifications, they’re responsible for several key job duties:

  1. Processing, manufacturing, and packaging the company’s products in a sterile environment.
  2. Validating processes.
  3. Ensuring all regulations are followed.
  4. Maintaining and cleaning the laboratory.
  5. Taking care of equipment.

The bulk of their work ultimately revolves around keeping up the lab and producing enough of each type of product to meet demand. As for the staff of research Ph.Ds, this group uses lab space to conduct assays and experiments for research and development.

Research laboratory vials

In most companies, the laboratory department is totally separate from research and development (R&D), but at Burst, the two departments intersect – and this is largely because of the research rotation program.

What is the Research Rotation Program?

Every six weeks, a lab tech will get one week of research duties, where they work closely with a Ph.D. During their research week, the lab tech will handle data analysis, take pictures of experiments, and cover other tasks that are commonly associated with the role of research assistant.

One of the company Ph.Ds, Dr. Trillitye Paullin, told me that there’s a 100 percent participation rate in research among our lab techs, likening the rotation to an internal internship. The lab techs not only get to do hands-on research work during their designated week, but they also get an intimate look at how the Ph.Ds approach their projects. They even get the opportunity to use cutting edge lab equipment like the MagPix on the job!

Research Experience Matters

In case it wasn’t clear yet, this opportunity is a big deal for someone who’s starting out in the science field. The lab techs explained that when you’re pursuing a bachelor’s in science, you have to be exceedingly lucky and talented to do research work under a professor.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average student-faculty ratio for colleges is 18:1, a ratio that isn’t nearly small enough to allow professors to work closely with each and every one of their students.

This fact is particularly problematic for science majors, because it means that research opportunities in academia are limited – and a lack of research has implications for their futures. It calls to mind the old adage about needing experience to get a job, and needing a job to get experience: without having prior research under their belts, a lot of opportunities are closed off to aspiring professionals in science.

What the Lab Techs Say About Research Rotation

One of the lab techs told me that he’d had a year of work experience in another lab before coming to Burst Biologics. “My previous job didn’t give me great actual experience as far as what a lab tech does,” he said. “Burst is a great place to learn a lot as a lab tech, and research weeks are the weeks I look forward to most.”

Lab technician at work in research rotation

He wasn’t the only one excited about the chance to do research. Another lab tech told me, “I look forward to rotation. We get to be an actual collaborator with the Ph.Ds. They trust us and ask us for our advice and opinions, and we get to see what R&D is up to firsthand.”

Everyone agrees that the opportunity to do research is a great draw for our qualified lab technicians – even the ones that have moved on from Burst. Two of our lab techs already parlayed their on-the-job research experience into graduate school programs, including one at Boise State University and another at PA school in Montana.

We’re excited to see them bettering their education, and we certainly will be excited to welcome them back to the team after they graduate!

Breaking up the Routine

Aside from the value of gaining research experience, there’s another great reason for research rotation. The lab tech supervisor explained to me that although lab tech work is crucial, it can get repetitive. The lab tech’s job requires the precise implementation of specific processes on a daily basis.

Fortunately, research rotation switches things up for the lab techs, engaging their critical thinking skills and granting them greater perspective that they can take back to their regular role. Because it’s their job to actually manufacture our products, lab technicians can take what they learn in research and use it to improve procedural design and validation for product development.

So Happy Together

In the end, the research rotation program helps both sides. It’s important to integrate manufacturing and research to create new products that can be manufactured with efficacy. Integrating the two departments keeps everyone working on the same page, bouncing ideas off one another.

This arrangement is also great for the Ph.Ds. Conducting experiments involves a lot of moving parts, so if they can get help every week from a lab tech, that enables researchers to work on their papers, design new studies, and interpret the results of their experiments.

The research rotation program is just one more way that Burst Biologics sets itself apart. It’s not always easy to find the win-win – but we’re making it a priority to do just that.


Burst Biologics: In Medical Affairs Experience Matters

Expressing his eagerness to expand into the growing area of stem cell research and regenerative medicine, Steve Czop gives us a look into his current position as Medical Affairs Officer at Burst Biologics. Having studied pharmacy for ten years, Steve believes that our culture of excellence at Burst Biologics is what ultimately drew him here.

Steve spoke of current projects, the foundation Burst Biologics is laying, and what has been the most impactful for him thus far. It was apparent by the end of the interview that Steve will play an essential role in the success of our company.

Steve Czop, Medical Affairs Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where are you from?

Steve – I grew up in New Jersey but just recently moved to Tampa, Florida to get away from the cold weather.

What is your educational background?

Steve – I have a B.S in Pharmacy from Rutgers College of Pharmacy. I was a practicing registered pharmacist for about 10 years and then decided to go in a different direction.

What is your past work experience before starting your role at Burst Biologics?

Steve —  I learned most of everything I do now through my work at several different companies. I started out with a company called EBI, which was part of Biomet at the time. My career at Biomet lasted 13 years, and during that time I started out at the bottom as a clinical research assistant and worked my way up to senior clinical research associate. I took on regulatory responsibilities while learning about medical writing. I obtained my regulatory submissions experience during the down times in clinical research functions.

I, then, moved to Redmond, Washington, where I joined a start-up company. The excitement it brought me to bring new technology onto the market was something I couldn’t pass up. At this company we developed a facet joint replacement, obtained IDE approval fairly quickly, and initiated a multicenter clinical trial. Unfortunately, the economy downturned, the field of motion preservation shifted a bit, and the company failed, despite the work of a lot of dedicated and talented people. However, it was a great experience for me and a good opportunity to learn and grow.

Immediately after Redmond I moved back to New Jersey to work for my second startup ApaTech. ApaTech was a fabricator of a synthetic bone graft, Actifuse, that had some uncommon properties that were very unique. My job at ApaTech was to establish a clinical portfolio as well as fulfill a range of regulatory functions. We had 5 peer review papers in the time I was there. When the company was sold to Baxter, I continued there from 2010 to 2016. I worked with the ApaTech product in addition to supporting other products in their portfolio as a Senior Manager in Medical Affairs.

With your past experience and clinical research responsibilities, do you feel this fits in well with your new role at Burst Biologics?

Steve – I think I’m going to successfully fulfill a variety of different functions here at Burst Biologics. I have already started building a clinical portfolio for the company. As good as a science story is, you have to have actual clinical data to back that up. We’ve already initiated a patient registry where we’ll collect specific data on spine cases, cervical, lumbar, and foot and ankle surgery.

Taking on my regulatory duties, we’re going to develop and seek 510k clearance for a synthetic bone graft, which will complement the amazing products we already have available.

As the medical affairs officer I will evolve into a function where scientific questions, particularly those that can’t be addressed directly by the sales representatives, will be handled by me. I’ll also help our medical director handle adverse event evaluations.

What is your role in the current research projects at Burst Biologics?

Steve – My role right now is actually with the patient registry. I’ve written the protocols and designed the case report forms, or at least the structure and information required, while our IT and Marketing team will make the data entry interface very user friendly. The methodology and structure of the registry is something I had to consider very carefully to balance the need for quality data with the constraints of each surgeon investigator’s time and effort. We’re also going to do investigator-led studies, so that will entail me working with the CEO and listening to physician’s ideas for research. We will evaluate them and see if they fit in with what our core vision is, and if so, we would then provide a grant to the physician to carry on the work.

Based on other positions you’ve held, would you say there is a strong foundation here for success, particularly on the science aspect of it?

Steve – In my previous positions I’ve heard about cellular allografts and I know there is a tremendous interest in it. I’m very excited to be with a company that is on the forefront of this technology. There is a very keen interest in research and science here, as well as an incredible amount of attention paid to quality and quality control. In my experience, this is going to go a long way towards the company’s success. There is a constant push towards excellence, which is something that really attracted me to Burst Biologics. We are building a culture of excellence in the people we hire, the equipment we buy, the products we produce and the physicians we chose to work with.

With other companies that you’ve worked with, what would you say the percentage of outsource manufacturing was versus in-house manufacturing?

Steve – I have been in the industry for 26 years and have seen companies build in-house manufacturing then close and outsource them to reduce costs.  Based on my experience I believe that having manufacturing facilities in house gives you a greater degree of control over the quality and consistency of the product.

Burst Biologics differs from other laboratories in that we have an onsite laboratory and PhD’s that work and interact with executive staff on a daily basis, how do we stand apart from other companies in the industry?

Steve – I’ve been in companies that have some research staff in-house, but the fact that we have research staff that is involved in basic research to advance the science of the products we’re developing is incredible. Very few companies this size have research staff, and I think that the trend in other industries is to outsource that sort of thing while we’re doing it right here at Burst Biologics.

In your experience working with the company, what has been the most impactful so far?

Steve – I think the most impactful thing to me is just seeing the attention paid to the production of individual products, the quality control, the thirst for knowledge, and ways to improve the product while still maintaining a strong focus on education, science and research. It’s an incredibly diverse and dedicated culture here, which will serve us well going into the future.

To learn more about us and our premier cellular allograft products head to www.burstbiologics.com or contact us for more information.


Burst Biologics: A well-oiled intellectual engine.

Burst Biologics is innovating, continually changing and growing its intellectual platform all in an effort to make a difference.

Excitement is amidst the walls in Burst Biologics as we continue to expand in new ways.

Highlights include:

  • Lab expansion.
  • Tripling of regional sales management.
  • Implementation of new marketing department.
  • Reconstructed website.
  • Individualized portal.
  • Increased cutting edge research efforts.

With a lab expansion quadrupling our square footage, we have been able to streamline our production processes, leaving more time for new cutting edge research.

Beth Adams, (research scientist at Burst Biologics) current research efforts are in modeling the impact of a unique cellular suspension derived from cord blood on dopamine production in neurodegenerative phenotypes; priming burst biologics to be a leader in cellular research.

It is apparent that Beth is driven by Bursts avant guard methodology. “I love the cutting edge approach here; we’re not bound to do things in a certain away, we’re gone away with old thought.”

It’s no surprise Beth feels this way. The innovation that takes place at Burst Biologics has promise to change a lot of people’s lives. As she calls it, our work here “a well-oiled intellectual engine.”