Trendsetters - April 2006
? Radiologist Dr. Barry Katzen, 59, a pioneer in non-invasive, non-surgical treatments for vascular problems outside the heart, repaired Vice President Dick Cheney's leg aneurysms last year. Katzen founded and is medical director of Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute in Miami.
? Gasper Lazzara, 63, CEO, founded Ponte Vedra Beach-based Imagine Orthodontics last year with offices in seven markets nationally.
? Diana Robinson stepped down as president of trade group BioFlorida to become director of business development for New York life sciences private equity firm Aisling Capital. She will work from Florida.
Dr. Ron Brown
Managing partner, founder, Orlando
In 2002 and 2003, as SARS spread from Asia, Dr. Ron Brown, then Seminole County's emergency management services medical director, was asked to consult with local authorities about setting up a quarantine center for potentially contagious air travelers. "OK, great, we'll take care of the patients," he recalls saying at a meeting. "Who's going to take care of the planes?"
"That was met with a lot of blank stares," says Brown, who attended the University of Central Florida as an undergrad and the University of South Florida for med school.
Brown was staring at opportunity. At great cost, Asian airlines had parked jumbo jets for weeks to let the virus in contaminated interiors die. Chemical treatments applied by hand weren't good solutions for planes or the workers who cleaned them.
Brown has raised $2.5 million from investors and developed a trailer-sized device that manipulates airline cabin temperature and humidity to kill viruses without harming the airplane's avionics or workers. Authorities in public health foresee using it in airplanes, subways, buses, rental cars, buildings, ambulances, cruise ships and other transports.
Brown, 50, expects to begin selling units this year for $600,000 to $750,000 to Asian airlines and U.S. airport and military officials. He hopes final assembly will occur in Orlando but says that depends on how generous the state's incentives package is. As AeroClave evolves, Brown is the principal investigator for a private firm on Centers for Disease Control-sponsored small pox vaccine trials.
Twenty years ago, Brown earned an MBA from Rollins College "just because" he was interested. Now, business is more than just a fancy. "We really think it will be a $1-billion industry a year for Florida in the next couple years."