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Creating Great Jobs By Making Drugs Safer

The use of social media for early identification of adverse events can be a powerful tool for pharmaceutical companies, the CDC, and the FDA to assess the risk and benefits of vaccines and drugs. Charles L Bennett MD, PhD, MPP is the Frank P. and Josie M. Fletcher Chair, Director of the SmartState Center for Medication Safety and Efficacy, and Director of the Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR) project at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Bennett is an academic hematologist/oncologist who has been the principal investigator in extensive grant-funded research. 

Described below is how an Innovation Collaboration Agreement (ICA) can be crafted around this opportunity using the Great Jobs Through Innovation Excellence Act (Great Jobs) Innovation Ecosystem Framework (click for a more detailed graphic).

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Established Research

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Dr. Bennett and SONAR colleague Dr. Linda Martin led SONAR’s first project which developed a protocol to identify early reports of COVID-19 vaccine blood-related adverse events through conversations on Twitter. For two months, Twitter posts were searched for key terms, including thrombosis, thrombocytopenia, blood clots, hemorrhage, vaginal or menstrual bleeding, and miscarriage. SONAR identified 21 Twitter reports of possible Covid-19 vaccine side effects which were then confirmed as Covid-19 vaccine concerns by analyzing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System.

Market Pull Innovation and Commercialization

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Pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer-BioNTechModerna, and Johnson & Johnson, might subscribe to a service based on the SONAR protocol to identify adverse impacts of their vaccines and drugs early so they can mitigate the impact as quickly as possible to enhance patient health and reduce legal liability.  

SONAR would identify a pharmaceutical company to define vaccines and pharmaceuticals they are interested in monitoring. Great Jobs would fund SONAR research to demonstrate the effectiveness of the protocol with these vaccines or drugs.

SONAR would enter into an ICA perhaps with an existing company to license the intellectual property to market the protocol. The pharmaceutical company might be the first subscriber. Other pharmaceutical companies as well as the CDC, the FDA, and other regulators might also be subscribers.

An existing industry partner would match the Great Jobsfunding either as direct support of SONAR research or through the creation or expansion of an innovation center in SC. The industry partner might also be an entrepreneurial company that licenses the IP and attracts a venture capital investment which is the match of the Great Jobs funding. In either case, the objective is for the industry partner to hire students graduating from the research program to further commercialize the research in SC. 

An ICA must include a lead economic development agency, which might be Richland County Economic Development Office, to ensure that other appropriate incentives are available to the industry partner. SC Launch might be a party to the ICA if an entrepreneurial company needs support. 

Commercialization and Workforce Development

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The ICA must also have a lead technical college, perhaps Midlands Technical College, to ensure training for a skilled workforce the industry partner will need to grow its operations in SC.

The ICA must have a partner like the SC Governor's School for Science and Mathematics Accelerate program to engage K-12 teachers and students to inspire the next generation to pursue STEM careers. 

Thank you for joining the Great Jobs journey.