Bernie’s Quarterly Update – June 2023
June 26, 2023
We’re halfway through 2023 and happy about how things are going and what the future holds. We have enjoyed a great six months of growth beyond our forecast. Our ongoing work to build innovative solutions, foster industry relationships, and strengthen our team and company culture continues. Here are several successes and/or opportunities I’m most proud of as we close the second quarter.
Promoting our innovations
CorneaGen was in full force at ASCRS 2023 in May, where we had the chance to celebrate another milestone for the EndoSerter-PL. Now in the hands of more than 150 surgeons, the EndoSerter-PL has been used in over 1,000 successful surgeries. The product keeps proving itself as a next generation device, improving efficiency in the O.R. by helping perform DSAEK surgery with precision. We also previewed our Corneal Tissue Addition for Keratoplasty (CTAK) solution which offers an exciting option for the treatment of keratoconic eyes and is now starting clinical trials. While we enjoyed great booth traffic throughout the event, it was the CTAK preview that earned the most interest, and we’ll have more to share at AAO later this year. And one more ASCRS note, the subspecialty day was incredible this year, with so many innovative developments underway that will transform this industry. We’ve heard about the potential of disruptive innovations such as cell therapy and artificial corneas for years…now they’re here!
Partnerships in the industry and patient access
We’re still forging new relationships and strengthening existing ones across the eye/tissue donation profession. We continue to formalize mutually beneficial arrangements with our partner eye banks to maximize the quality and quantity of corneal tissue available. It was great to interact with many of these colleague at the EBAA meeting in Dallas recently. Whether it be more integrated tissue sharing, access to our innovative devices, or improving eye recovery in certain geographies, we are thinking “outside the box” when it comes to working with our trusted donation partners.
People are our passion
CorneaGen recently congratulated Chief Talent Management Officer Gretchen Coker on her semi-retirement after 14 years with us. And while we’re sad to see Gretchen go, we’re thrilled to welcome Heather Smith, taking over the HR role. Heather brings a wealth of experience, joining us from A Place for Mom, where she served as their Director of Human Resources. We’re also coordinating our next educational opportunity for Fellows, preparing to bring 14 surgeons to Seattle to learn about best practices in the field. And finally, the reason we’re in this industry, doing this work—patients. In always seeking to honor a donor’s gift, I wanted to share a news story about a donation from 2019. In this clip, Kayla’s family shared how they worked to make their daughter’s gift create positive change in their community years later.
As we close, I reaffirm our mission. CorneaGen remains committed to providing the highest quality donor tissue, unparalleled service, and superior products. We have much more to do in the second half of 2023, and I can’t wait to share.
Bernie’s Quarterly Update – December 2022
December 19, 2022
As we near the end of a very strong quarter and wrap up yet another year, all of us at CorneaGen pause to wish all of you the happiest of holidays. The collaboration and team spirit, both internal and external, are what made 2022 successful. Together, we reflect on what we’ve achieved and look to the year ahead, preparing to take advantage of ongoing and new opportunities to deliver sight-restoring corneal care to patients.
Here are just a few reasons to celebrate.
Product innovations this year and next…
CorneaGen launched the EndoSerter-PL at ASCRS, and we had another impressive showing of this FDA approved DSAEK solution at AAO—our best AAO ever. We had record booth attendance, meeting up with more surgeons and key opinion leaders than at any previous event. The EndoSerter-PL has been used in hundreds of surgeries and counting, as we get it in the hands of more and more surgeons. We’re also very excited for a couple of new product launches planned for 2023. Much more to come soon.
Teams who worked tirelessly…
With shortages in storage media and subsequent uneven tissue supply, we all faced a lot. Yet despite the issues, I saw endless can-do and creativity in working to solve these challenges. In the end and in collaboration with of all our Eye Bank and OPO partners, we finished Q4 very strong, delivering at yearend a high volume of sight restoring grafts to surgeons and patients.
Partnering with surgeons and industry leaders…
It was rewarding to reignite our Eye Bank Experience Program and host fellows again in person, helping educate our future leaders in cornea/anterior segment. We’ll keep offering and promoting educational pathways in the year ahead. Also, we’re happy to welcome Jane Rady back to our board. Her wisdom and experience in corporate ophthalmology greatly enhances our board and CorneaGen governance. Finally, I want to celebrate the gratis tissue CorneaGen provided for our surgeon partners’ mission trips this year—176 tissue donations from the beginning of 2022 through Nov 30, including for the WakeECHO mission below.
After a long hiatus due to COVID, WakeECHO Brigade #10 traveled to Honduras in October to provide cataract, cornea, and subspecialty surgery, as well as ophthalmology consultations to those in need.</font size>
Challenges surmounted in the industry at large…
We have been engaging eye banks and donation partners in new and meaningful ways. Consolidation continues, and it’s by strengthening relationships with these partners that we raise awareness and expand access to our innovative services and technologies for surgeons and their patients around the country. We’re developing best practices to shine a brighter light on corneal transplant reimbursement. We will expand this impactful program in 2023. And as always, I expect there will be many more prospects to partner on in 2023, improving awareness, education, and tissue supply for everyone.
On a closing note, I want to highlight the reason we do what we do. At CorneaGen, we remain committed to providing the highest quality donor tissue, unparalleled service, and superior products—all the while, we never forget the donors, their families and their final gifts, honoring the sacred process of eye, organ, and tissue donation.
Here’s to 2022, a Happy Holidays, and a very Happy New Year to all!
Bernie Iliakis, President and CEO