August 17, 2022


Lifesaving Career

Mike Vogel | 2/1/2005
While working with the World Health Organization in Geneva in the early 1990s, Jacqueline Cattani supervised a large-scale trial on the effectiveness of insecticide-treated sleeping nets in preventing malaria deaths in children under 5. The lifesaving trial found nets cut mortality by approximately a fifth -- and provided Cattani with one of the most gratifying moments of her career.JACQUELINE CATTANI
Director / University of South Florida Center for Biological Defense

Professor / USF College of Public Health


PURSUITS: Hiking, cycling, kayaking, mystery novels
FUN READS: Carl Hiaasen and Randy Wayne White
DOESN'T READ: Robin Cook. "Reading mystery stories about your field, you always see the weaknesses."
HOME: Wesley ChapelThe course of Cattani's disease-fighting career brought her in 1997 to the University of South Florida, where she is a public health professor and directs its Center for Biological Defense.

Raised in California, Cattani's impressive prior postings include Harvard and a stint as a malaria epidemiologist in Papua New Guinea. She has spent half of her adult life outside the country, mostly in the tropics.

Fears of bio-terrorism elevated her field in public awareness, but Cattani is disarmingly professional when asked if bio-terrorism keeps her awake at night: "Not really." Nuclear and other threats, she says, are more likely.

But, she adds, the USF center's work is dual-purpose, and its other thrust, emerging infections, is "probably as important as defense."

The center is moving toward a May opening of a new, $11-million facility. Cattani, 62, plans to remain director only for two or three more years, to provide continuity. "Then I don't know. I would like to think about consulting on a broader scale." She already consults for the military and has been on committees for the National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Sciences. One panel established the standards for decontaminating buildings.

Committee work might sound dull, but Cattani ranks it with the malaria trial among her career highlights. It allows her to work with the top people in the field: "Anyone who sits on these committees feels it's one of the most satisfying things they do."

Mako Surgical Corp.:
Robo Doc
As a Miami native and son of one of its most prominent politicians, Maurice Ferré seemed destined to return to Miami from med school in Boston. That's what he thought: "I told my wife I'd be back down in
Miami within a year after graduating from medical school."

Indeed, he did make it back -- a decade after graduating.

Venture capital firm Sycamore Ventures brought in Ferré last year to be CEO of Mako Surgical Corp., a Hollywood company developing a robotic tool for minimally invasive orthopedic surgery. Minimally invasive surgery -- using computers and image-guided devices to operate through small holes in the body -- is an $8-billion field that Ferré hopes to crack with robot technology Mako licensed from MIT. Ferré's track record includes founding Visualization Technology, a pioneering electromagnetic, image-guided surgery company that he sold to General Electric in 2002.DR. MAURICE FERR?
CEO / Mako Surgical Corp.


EDUCATION: Boston University, M.D., 1992; master's, public health, 1992
FAMILY: Wife, Maria Doleres; children, Isabella, 13, Camila, 11, Maurice Eduardo, 9, and Antonia, 7
FATHER: Maurice Ferré, who in 1973 became Miami mayor, the first Hispanic mayor of a major U.S. city
QUOTE: "What I learned from my father is to be optimistic and to have vision. You have to kind of combine both of them. The key is to be pragmatic."Mako recently raised $4 million and is raising another $15 million to $20 million. The money will fund development and a training center in south Florida where doctors can learn to use the Mako device and then persuade hospitals to buy it.

Ferré, 44, says that Mako's product will be easier on muscle and bones, causing less blood loss, pain and rehabilitation and thus making for better outcomes and quicker recoveries. Ferré expects the device to be used in surgeries this year.

"I'm really passionate about being down in south Florida," Ferré says, citing Gov. Jeb Bush's recruitment of biotech researcher Scripps. "I really want to be involved in making south Florida what Boston and San Francisco are."

Sarasota inventor and bio-engineer James Patterson, 82, cut himself in his Sarasota lab a few years ago. He discovered the compound he was studying for use in purifying water instantly made the wound scab over, a boon to hemophiliacs, people on blood thinners, dental patients, coaches and anyone stocking a medicine cabinet. Patterson, who had a long career at Dow Chemical and other places, has a long list of patents to his name. The company he co-founded, Biolife, markets his "QR" -- as in quick relief -- powder and won an innovation award from the state. "The key is to keep your mind as active as a child. That way you're curious and creative, and if you retain that you'll have a good, inventive life." He's working on removing tridium from water, which would be a breakthrough for the nuclear power industry.

Dr. Ramsey Saffouri made a house call in Miami Beach to a visiting Frank Sinatra in 1992. It gave Saffouri an idea. Twelve years later, his Miami Beach-based AM-PM House Calls, with its one-hour guaranteed service, is in 22 cities nationally and is expanding this year into Orlando, Naples and Tampa. Saffouri, 43, says the minimum call is $325 to $375. The bill increases depending on services provided. Half of his patients are staying at hotels and resorts. "If you've seen 'Cops' on television," Saffouri says, "this is 'Docs.' "

Pensacola native, UF MBA and Navy vet Vinnie Whibbs, 34, works as chief sales and service officer at efileshare. The company connects doctors and hospitals via a secure web link, eliminating the fax as the method for referrals, ordering tests and getting results. Three years old, efileshare now is in 65 hospitals and with 4,700 physicians. Whibbs expects to add more hospitals and doctors this year and work toward connecting pharmacies. "It's the next piece of the puzzle," he says.

Tags: Trendsetters, Healthcare

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