Tucked away in a new industrial park off Alico Road east of Interstate 75 in Fort Myers, scientists are busy building a promising new venture that will help physicians in Southwest Florida deliver that elusive service: personalized medicine.
In the first program of its kind in the nation, the Clinical and Translational Genome Research Institute is working with Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers to develop a certificate for laboratory technicians to learn how to use the equipment that decodes individual genetic makeup. The nonprofit organization is also collaborating with Lee Memorial Health System and the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida on major initiatives related to medical research and economic development.
Once trained by the institute, clinical laboratory technicians will be able to deliver the kind of genetic information that physicians need to tailor medications so that patients receive the best treatment with the appropriate doses. The technology is available now, but the trained workforce is lacking, scientists say.
For example, doctors now rely on a system of trial and error to determine the right medications and dosage for patients with problems ranging from attention-deficit disorders to cancer. Personalized medicine using genetic testing promises better outcomes because medications will be more effective.
“Being able to target therapy is a big deal,” says Larry Antonucci, chief operating officer for Lee Memorial Health System, speaking to a gathering at the institute’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 19. “This will in fact lower the cost of care.”
In addition to training laboratory technicians, the institute plans to collaborate with researchers who study various diseases to provide them with laboratory space and equipment. It also plans to assist entrepreneurial startups who lack the expensive infrastructure. The institute announced the launch of operations at the newly constructed Emergent Technologies Institute, an FGCU facility at the Innovation Hub park off Alico Road in Fort Myers.
You can read a recent story about the institute in the Business Observer, a weekly business newspaper that covers the Gulf Coast from Tampa to Naples.
There are all kinds of interesting manufacturing businesses tucked away in industrial parks around Naples.
Yes, you read right: Manufacturing. In Naples.
Pelican Wire is one of those exceptional companies that manufactures a product so special that even the Chinese are importing it. In fact, you might say the company is a symbol of skilled American manufacturing. “That’s where we win,” says Ted Bill, Pelican’s president.
Pelican makes insulated and temperature-resistant specialty wires. Employee-owned Pelican sells these wires to manufacturers that make a host of sophisticated products, from electric cars to aircraft and even floor heaters.
Export is a big part of Pelican’s business and Bill estimates selling to Asian and European customers totals about 45% of sales. About 30% to 40% of the company’s sales end up in China, he notes. (Privately held Pelican doesn’t disclose annual sales.)
Pelican Wire has been busy growing in the last two years with the acquisition of Rubadue Wire in Greeley, Colo., in late 2014 and Kerrigan-Lewis Wire Products of Chicago last year. It currently has about 1,200 customers.
The company employs 79 people in Naples and Bill says there’s some room to grow in the 33,000-square-foot facility. To accommodate future growth, Bill says the company could add another 25,000 square feet on an adjacent lot. “We continuously want to grow the business,” says Bill.