Alumni Profiles

Scott Collins, M.S.E. '04 & PhD '09

Alum Makes an Impact in 3-D Printing Advances and Global Health

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    Scott Collins

For any woman who's faced breast cancer treatment, the process of making a decision to have a lumpectomy or mastectomy can be arduous. Now one BME alum is helping to make reconstruction options easier for breast cancer survivors who opt to have lumpectomies.

In 2012, Scott Collins joined the Austin, Texas startup TeVido BioDevices as Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Research and Development. TeVido, founded by engineer and executive Laura Bosworth-Bucher in a partnership with Dr. Thomas Boland, a professor at The University of Texas at El Paso, has recently been in the news for developing a 3-D printing process for breast reconstruction. The technology is being developed to fabricate tissue grafts for use in reconstruction after a lumpectomy. A women's own fat cells in conjunction with this process are used as a potential alternative to months of filling the void left by the lumpectomy with a series of fat injections. Injections alone are slowed by reabsorption into the body and can leave breasts disfigured and asymmetrical.

TeVido's technology may also have applications in the areas of treating wounds, burns, and diabetic ulcers. "My eventual goal is to create a platform technology that can be utilized to form custom, vascularized tissue using a patent's own cells when it makes sense to."

This work energizes Collins because it's bringing all the right people together to come up with solutions that will improve health care.

"In order for new developments to work, Collins says, we need people in academia, medicine, and industry to work together along with a framework that helps foster collaboration and IP transfer. Research often exists that's better than the technology available to the public today, and I want to help move that research out to those who can benefit from it."

In addition to working with entrepreneurs, Collins has had a knack for starting businesses of his own since he was young. As a middle school student, he ran a lawn mowing business. That was a precursor to him starting an IT company and running engineering and development at the small biomedical company Arrhythmia Research Technology after earning a BS from The University of Texas at Austin in electrical engineering in the nineties.

Collins sold that company and then earned a PhD in biomedical engineering from UT Austin. Today, in addition to working at TeVido, he runs Collins Biomedical, where he offers strategic consulting for medical device startups and RxDonate.com, a company that helps bring medical resources and personnel to the developing world.

The idea to work in global health came to Collins while he was a student.

While working on his doctorate, Collins focused on two areas: regenerative medicine and engineering entrepreneurship. His research focused on growing blood vessels outside of the body to be used in tissue engineering and cardio therapy applications. And, he also helped grow the Idea to Product Competition (I2P), originally a student-led early technology commercialization plan competition that began at UT Austin in 2001.

During Collins' time at UT, I2P grew globally and now has an international presence with additional competitions held in other countries. "The Idea to Product competition as well as the coursework and seminars surrounding it fill an unmet need. Too often companies start with an idea but don't appreciate what is necessary to bring that idea or base technology to a sustainable product. The I2P as well as its leadership and collaborators help give students edge for future success." Collins also traveled to the Congo, Haiti, and Mexico, where he visited hospitals and observed where improvements could be made in the health care philanthropic supply chain.

He continues this work today. His startup RxDonate.com, is developing systems to help identify equipment and personnel needs and coordinate health care solutions in Haiti, the Congo, and Tanzania. Collins hopes to expand into a global deployment once the systems are perfected.