Biotechnology touches every life, and those lives depend on cutting-edge advancements to keep up with the latest research and solve big challenges. The industry’s rising stars are heeding the call.

Florida’s vibrant biotech industry is nationally recognized, anchored by prominent research institutions and leading organizations across the state. One such company is NovaBone Products LLC, a manufacturer of synthetic bone grafts and delivery systems engineered to accelerate the body’s natural healing process. Clinical studies have shown that the company’s proprietary bioactive glass products result in bone growth to the same degree as autograft without the associated costs and risks.

Douglas E. Rodriguez, Ph.D., manages NovaBone’s research and development operations in Alachua, and exemplifies the importance of a pipeline from academia to industry in The Corridor.

A mechanical engineer by training, Douglas began his educational career by studying the reinforcement of composite materials for offshore oil applications. Because he found the work more fascinating than fulfilling, he eventually shifted focus to the biomedical field in hopes of making a tangible difference in people’s lives. The leap from academia to industry is not always easy, but with hard work and self-developed communication skills, Douglas was able to make the professional transition. He explained, “Because of my prior experience with mechanics and material science, I jumped right into orthopedics, developing reinforced plastics for medical devices as part of my Ph.D. coursework.”

The University of Florida (UF) provided Douglas with a postdoctoral fellowship in Materials Science and Engineering to study the formation of bone and how it mineralizes. His work at NovaBone now directly relates to his academic research. In fact, the core technology utilized by NovaBone was originally developed at UF by Professor L. L. Hench.

“We are producing something tangible,” Douglas said. “I am a creator by nature, so the fact that I get to work on a product that goes through the regulatory process, is manufactured and ends up helping a patient in some way motivates me to continue developing groundbreaking products.”

His area of study and the needs of the local industry are what drew Douglas to The Corridor and what have kept him working in the region. He credits Florida’s large research institutions and economic development organizations with fostering emerging technology and innovative startup businesses. This environment has supported NovaBone and its sustained success, and simultaneously, has helped Douglas cultivate biotech innovations that have changed the lives around the globe.

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