Ellis came to the United States from Taiwan 20 years ago, and ever since she received her Master's degree in polymer chemistry from the University of Massachusetts - Lowell, she has been working on products for the eye.
Recovery Act Impact: Vista Scientific
Ellis started at Bausch and Lomb, the eye care products company, where she met Robert Thompson, Charles Leahy and Edward Ellis. The four worked together for nearly a decade and, 10 years ago, when Bausch and Lomb relocated the Massachusetts-based division to Rochester, NY Leahy, Ellis and Edward Ellis decided to strike out on their own.
Vista Scientific, an ophthalmic research and development company, was born. Eventually Thompson joined his old colleagues and helped spearhead the development of the Topical Ophthalmic Drug Delivery Device (TODDD), a device that can deliver medications for an extended period of time through a lens inserted in the eye. The device could have implications for the treatment of glaucoma as well as nearly all eye infections and diseases.
Vista Scientific saw tremendous potential in TODDD for improving the quality of life of eye disease sufferers as well as saving the healthcare system tremendous costs but the healthcare community wanted to see proof that the lens could successfully rest in a human eye. The company did not have the funds to conduct the tests and the struggling economy meant that their phase two Small Business Innovation Research grant could not get funding.
But stimulus changed all that.
The stimulus program funded the $1.6 million grant and enabled not only the four employees of Vista Scientific to retain their jobs but also allowed it to conduct the necessary tests it needed to move TODDD closer to market. "The amount of time companies have to spend on trying to get funding can strangle them," said Thompson, Vista's managing partner. "That what this stimulus grant did for us. Now we can progress the product forward."
Thompson noted that the medical community is excited to see their product available. Compliance in the treatment of glaucoma is a tremendous challenge and without treatment, blindness can result. "We've had companies conduct research for us and they are emphatic," said Thompson. "Any doctor knows he has a problem with compliance in glaucoma."
Jeanne Ellis, who does material development for TODDD, is equally as passionate about the device. "I live and breathe this product," she said. I am really grateful we got this stimulus grant so we can continue to work on this product that we really believe in."