This week we hosted two experts whose companies are fighting infections from different directions. Michael Hellerstein is the Director of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Systems for GeoVax. They’re a biotechnology company that’s developing vaccines for Ebola and HIV.
Debora Carrier combined her experience as a fashion model and a healthcare provider to think of a better-looking scrub uniform that is both better looking and resistant to spreading infections. She founded Twice As Nice Uniforms to give health workers and physicians a more visually appealing choice while at the same time helping reduce the alarming rate of infections acquired in health delivery environments.
Michael talked about how GeoVax has been fighting infections through innovative approaches to vaccine development, utilizing vaccine-like particles to tackle HIV and more recently, Ebola. He shared how prevalent HIV remains today and that more work is being focused on treating the disease versus developing vaccines to prevent it.
He shared how technology has evolved that allows biotech companies to identify genetic components to viruses, which enables them to incorporate pieces of this material and instill it into a harmless organism. Then, as the organism reproduces, it produces a copy of itself that has some characteristics of the pathogen the vaccine is designed to fight. This “recombinant” vaccine doesn’t make the body sick but it does prompt an immune response from the body against the pathogenic virus, providing protection against infection.
GeoVax is able to create particles that are safer to use than vaccines that contain live pathogen, allowing people who may have some immune compromise to get some protection as well in some cases.
The company has used this technology to get a vaccine that is showing some promise for preventing HIV infection. Michael talked about how the clinical trials are progressing and how long it takes to get a vaccine approved for use in people versus the time it takes to develop a medication to treat disease.
Debora talked about her story as a healthcare provider for over 20 years led her to think of a scrub design that looks much better than the bulky, wrinkle-prone scrubs the health community has been using for decades. She talked about how frequently the environment is very cool, prompting workers to wear long sleeves and/or jackets while delivering care.
We discussed how long sleeves prevent washing the lower arms as is recommended and how the fabric can readily carry bacteria and viral material from one patient to another. Debora investigated various athletic materials that can help regulate body temperature in various climes, while at the same time possessing antimicrobial properties.
Twice As Nice Uniforms utilize an American-made material that controls moisture and uses a scrub design that incorporates a removable liner that allows the worker to be comfortable when the rooms are very cool.
In looking at the design of the garments, it’s clear she brought her experience in modeling to bear in the style/cut of the uniforms they’re creating.
Debora Carrier, CEO/Founder of Twice As Nice Uniforms
- AS, Dental Hygiene, William Rainey Harper College
- Professional Fashion Model
- Registered Dental Hygienist
- Founder, CPR Sisters
Michael Hellerstein, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Systems
- AB, Biology, Harvard University
- Previous Assistant Scientist, Pfizer
- Co-Founder, BlueSky Biotech
- President, Hellerstein Consulting
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