May 23, 2008

Team wins business plan competition

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Ravi Chari, M.D.

Team wins business plan competition

A team of students from Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management has won first place in the MBA Jungle Business Plan Competition, a national competition held recently in New York City.

The team developed a proposal for a start-up company, Organ Transplant Technology, to market a new method for preserving and transporting donor organs. The company would combine a newly developed perfusion solution for preserving transplanted organs with a transportable, compressed-air driven perfusion system to replace the standard method of transporting organs on ice in coolers.

Members of the winning team, all of whom graduated May 9 from Vanderbilt's Executive MBA program, are Ravi Chari, M.D., chief of the Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation at Vanderbilt; Ted Klee, vice president of Square D/Schneider Electric Company; Andrew Bordas, director, warehouse management systems, Ingram Book; and Fernando Sanchez, chief financial officer of Gibson Guitar. Clayton Knox, a Vanderbilt medical student, also assisted the team with the project.

The demand for donor organs and effective organ preservation solutions is huge and growing, Chari said. “As surgeons, we are pressed to use more organs, as the waiting list is growing and patients receiving the transplants are sicker. But this has forced us to consider organs from all donors, not just the 'perfect' donor. Therefore, it is critical that the organs are optimally recovered and stored, otherwise the organ is not usable,” he said.

The new perfusion solution, developed by Thomas Van Gulik of the University of Amsterdam, helps rejuvenate the organ while the air-drive system circulates the solution throughout the organ to renew nutrients to the cells.