You don’t have to go to Silicon Valley in California; the Research Triangle in North Carolina; the Dulles Technology Corridor in Northern Virginia; America’s Technology Highway in Massachusetts; or Silicon Hills in Austin, Texas, to find people of great creativity who are making contributions of considerable significance. The CSRA is bursting with creative, productive and civic-minded people.
At the end of this article there is a list of creative people in the CSRA who fit all three of the following categories: They are very creative; they turn their creativity into something of real value; they use their creativity to serve large numbers of their fellow citizens.
BUT LET’S START the discussion with a local physician who is a researcher and inventor. Rex Teeslink is a vascular and interventional radiologist with more than 45 years of experience. Throughout his medical career, he not only took care of patients, but he also assisted many companies with the development and improvement of medical equipment and devices that would enhance the care of patients.
His passion for invention continues today. Dr. Teeslink currently has two products that he has designed, developed and tested extensively. He anticipates approval by the Food and Drug Administration soon. Shortly thereafter, these breakthrough products should be available throughout America and beyond.
Every year in America, more than 7 million of our citizens undergo a procedure in which a specialized medical device is inserted into an artery. These devices serve many purposes. Some can replace heart valves; some repair aneurysms; others remove plaque buildup in the arteries; and others place stents in arteries, just to name a few. Every one of these devices is different, but each one is inserted into an artery in the groin of the leg or in the arm. The device is threaded up through the artery to the diseased area that needs to be treated.
These procedures have become routine. Tens of thousands of people in the CSRA are living longer and less painful lives as a result.
Even though these procedures are now routine, there remains a fundamental problem. One of the major risks of these methods is not securely closing the hole that is made in the artery from these devices. To control bleeding, this hole must be closed after the device is removed. This requires some type of external pressure on the artery or an internal device that is left in the body. There are several devices on the market for this purpose, but each of them has its limitations.
Dr. Teeslink has invented a device that should overcome these limitations and significantly improve this process. This device will minimize patient discomfort and recovery time, close even the largest hole in the artery, and leave nothing behind in the patient.
HIS SECOND INVENTION is a device that will enhance the treatment of blood vessel disease in the legs. By using a new and improved method, drugs are delivered with great precision to the affected areas of the diseased arteries, helping to keep the arteries from becoming clogged again. Pre-clinical studies indicate that this new approach has the potential to replace many stent placements.
The Rex Teeslink story fits into a larger context. Americans have the inherent capacity to innovate, to challenge, to dream and to grow. There are many creative people in the CSRA, in medicine, the arts, the entrepreneurial arena and many other fields.
Names that come to mind include orthopedic surgeon Lyn Crosby; retail developer Jim Hull; the late philanthropists Pete Knox and his brother Boone; Augusta Mini Theatre founder Tyrone Butler; Augusta Museum of History Executive Director Nancy Glaser; legendary cardiopulmonary physician Lois Ellison; real-estate developer and marketing consultant Turner Simkins; Lead Like Jesus President and CEO Phyllis Hendry; Georgia Regents University Director of Athletics Clint Bryant; retail developer Barry Storey; organist and St. Paul’s Church Music Director Keith Shafer; and Greater Augusta Arts Council Executive Director Brenda Durant.
Also, businessman and developer Clay Boardman; former Augusta Chorale Music Director Ellis Johnson; Quintin Kuyper, artistic co-director of the Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society; gynecological oncologist Sharad Ghamande; businessman Bill Lesshafft; Morris Museum of Art Director Kevin Grogan; obstetrician/gynecologist Bipin Chudgar; Diane Johnson, director of marketing at Augusta Regional Airport; Historic Augusta Programs and Marketing Director Julia Jackson; Andrew Swift, founding partner, creative director and chief medical illustrator for health-care communications company iSO-FORM; Vets to Washington Program Director Doug Hastings; Veterans’ History Project Coordinator Fred Gehle; Fireside Ministries co-founder Phin Hitchcock; Deanna Brown-Thomas, president of the James Brown Family Children Foundation; and Augusta Heritage Academy Executive Director Linda Tucciarone.
I encourage those who are aware of other extraordinarily creative and productive people in the CSRA to highlight their work by writing articles for The Augusta Chronicle, identifying them to other media organizations or highlighting them through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
BY SHARING THESE stories with our friends and neighbors, a
climate of innovation can be established which can redound to the benefit of the entire community.
Our metropolitan area has the potential of becoming an echo chamber where great ideas bounce around Augusta, Aiken and beyond. The CSRA can become a large brain trust of mutually supporting smart people who selflessly share their ideas. One good idea can lead to another and another. This is how Silicon Valley works – there is no reason this approach could not work right here in the Central Savannah River Area.
(The writer – a retired U.S. Air Force major general – and retired Brig. Gen. Jeff Foley are co-authors of the recently published book Rules and Tools for Leaders (fourth edition). Previous editions sold more than 300,000 copies. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His web site is genpsmith.com.)