This week on the Life Science Success podcast I interviewed Jason Winder CEO of Sonogen Medical. Sonogen Medical is a company that has developed a novel technology for ultrasonic bone fracture healing.
This week on the Life Science Success podcast I interviewed Jason Winder CEO of Sonogen Medical. Sonogen Medical is a company that has developed a novel technology for ultrasonic bone fracture healing.
1:00 Tell the listeners about yourself
1:44 The languages Jason can speak
3:00 Career Journey
4:19 Importance of Security
5:00 Tell us about Sonogen
9:40 IEEE Article
20:23 Three Questions (Inspires, Concerns, Excites)
Please check out our Life Science Success Resources. You will find tools that will support growing companies and books for authors I have interviewed.
[00:00:28] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Welcome to life science success podcast. My name is Don and today we're going to be talking about technology for bone healing. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a consultant in life sciences. I help customers manage complexity and increase performance today. I'm joined. Bye Jason winter. He's the CEO of sauna gin medical Sonogen, and Medical's a company that has developed a novel technology for ultrasonic bone fracture [00:01:00] healing.
[00:01:02] Jason Winder: Hey, Don. Glad to be here.
[00:01:04] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, thanks so much. So can you tell listeners just a little bit about yourself?
[00:01:10] Jason Winder: Yeah, sure. Let's see. I live in the Washington DC area with my long suffering wife. She. I play a blues guitar. I love to cook I speak a few languages and we both really enjoy travel.
My golf game is absolutely terrible, but I suppose it's nice to get out every now and again.
[00:01:31] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. I I, unfortunately right now in Colorado, it's getting into that season where I start to lose more and more golf balls. I'm right there with you. What languages do you.
[00:01:44] Jason Winder: Fluent in French and roughly conversational in German, Dutch Spanish, and I can get by in Italian and Portuguese if I absolutely have to.
[00:01:56] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Oh, very nice. It definitely would come in handy, especially [00:02:00] considering that you you like to travel. So that it's a great thing to have whenever you can, occasionally converse in the local.
[00:02:09] Jason Winder: Yeah, my wife and I spent about a decade living in Brussels and working. And we would take every opportunity to just get out and about.
And it's it was nice to be able to just roll in to another country sometimes within even just an hour or so by car or train. And we took full advantage of that. So that was that was a nice part of of that.
[00:02:35] Don Davis PhD, MBA: One of my favorite things in Brussels is to set outside at one of the cafes, with a beer and a bucket of mussels.
Right there with you.
Yeah. You've had a career that's focused on cybersecurity software and big data. And then you're also the founder and CTO of a cybersecurity company. [00:03:00] Can you tell us just a little bit about what did you do in that part of your career and in journey?
[00:03:06] Jason Winder: Yeah, sure. That's airstone which I founded back in 2003 is today just one of five companies in the world certified.
By the national security agency for vulnerability assessment work. They do a ton of security assessment work for the U S government, the military and us intelligence community, as well as for a number of fortune 100 companies and a few international institutions. That was a lot of fun. It cyber security is obviously a very current and challenging.
Yeah, I did it for a very long time. And honestly, I'm excited for the.
[00:03:49] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. The one thing that I've heard with with the war in Ukraine with the pharma companies that I work with, as well as just that, that, that heightened level of just [00:04:00] need for security oversight and just making sure that, we're all being aware of the fact that, the cyber warfare doesn't just happen.
Other countries or at other companies that could actually be happening right in your own company. And you just might not know it yet.
[00:04:19] Jason Winder: Yep. A lot of people have an impression that this is a government to government thing and that everyone's after the nuclear launch codes. The real target is actually industrial secrets.
And by some estimates, the United States is lost. Depending on he asked anywhere between one to 4 trillion. In value due to espionage over the last 15 to 20 years. So it's a very real problem. And it's not just a, it's not just a Intel spice stuff. It actually has actual effects and medical companies are a massive target given the high value of pharmaceuticals and device technology.
[00:04:58] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And so [00:05:00] now you're at Sana gen you're the CEO there. What can you tell us about Sonogen and what are you guys working?
[00:05:06] Jason Winder: Cyanogen is a medical devices startup. It's absolutely completely separate from the cybersecurity business. I know that seems like an interesting career change, but my father is actually one of the leading experts in the world in medical ultrasound.
Sauna gin is actually working to commercialize some next generation technology that he's developed. That ultimately uses low intensity pulsed ultrasound for bone fracture healing. So very excited to try to bring that technology to market.
[00:05:40] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. I noticed that in I, as I was doing research for the show I read your I Tripoli paper and saw your father's name on there as well.
And just wanted to explore a little bit more of that tie. In terms of, his background in his career what [00:06:00] are the primary? Where has he his primary focus, Ben and what are some of the things that he's worked on up till now?
[00:06:08] Jason Winder: Oh gosh. He spent the first half of his career actually working in in undersea warfare.
He was doing anti-submarine work mostly classified programs for the U S Navy for the first 20 years or so of his career. And then ultimately pivoted to medical applications of ultrasound in the early nineties. Which was really the, when the first ultrasound based bone fractured healing device finally made it to market here in the United States.
That it's, he's had a very interesting career and brings a lot of really a really fascinating background and experience to the table that I dare say is rather unique in our.
[00:06:50] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. It definitely does. Sound does sound interesting where primarily would this technology be used? What w [00:07:00] what would the patient look like that would need something like this, and is it something that, if I go, and all of a sudden, there's I've somehow fractured an arm or a leg or something, is this something that you're envisioning would eventually be used on anybody that has even.
Basic level fracture or is it, specifically for only for certain types of patients that you envision this eventually making it to market for?
[00:07:28] Jason Winder: The good news is that more than 90% of people who suffer a fracture, he'll just find on their own. Most people are ample. And the fracture Hills without a specific intervention beyond maybe stabilization and casting and things of that nature there is about 40% of the population that has some sort of vascular insufficiency due to a comorbidity like diabetes or osteoporosis, osteopenia even people who are cigarette smokers are [00:08:00] just of advanced stage might find themselves at increased risk of a delayed or nonunion.
And for those eight to 10% that suffered delayed or nonunion fracture osteo osteopaths typically provide prescribed some kind of bone growth stimulation device. And there are a few technologies in the field that are used to try to stimulate the fracture, to just heal naturally on its own so that we can avoid risky and also costly.
[00:08:34] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Okay. And when was the company founded? When did you get started?
[00:08:40] Jason Winder: We've been in business formerly since early 20, 20. However, we we've been working on building a prototype of our device and conducting early animal trials, proof of concept studies going back as far as late 27.
So [00:09:00] we're relatively new, but we already have some good good data behind us. And so far three patents pending on our technology.
[00:09:09] Don Davis PhD, MBA: So then the good natural question is where are you currently in terms of product development?
[00:09:16] Jason Winder: We have the patents, we have a device engineering prototype we have some great early.
Certainly the next step is to design and build a clinical prototype that we could actually put in the hands of end users specifically, so that we could conduct a human clinical trial for first in a unit.
[00:09:40] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Okay. And there was an article that was written about your company and I Tripoli that showed really positive results for bone healing.
Can you explain the results and, what what was the outcome of that paper?
[00:09:57] Jason Winder: Absolutely. So that was based on an animal trial [00:10:00] that we conducted in conjunction with Thomas Jefferson university hospital, as well as the Mayo clinics biomechanics. Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia.
They are, have been at the forefront of medical ultrasound since the very beginning. That institution really helped bring that tech into the mainstream. And we effectively did a a bake-off between our technology and the only FDA approved device in this space. We showed that given equivalent treatment times that our technology resulted in 25 to 30% stronger and stiffer, but.
Than the existing device which is of course very exciting that alone should be a fantastic discriminator. But in addition, we've also worked to develop a fracture healing assessment capability. It occurred to us that as long as we were irradiating the fracture with ultrasound at diagnostic levels why not capture the [00:11:00] echo and try to see if the bone is actually.
That, that turned out to be an incredibly complex problem. Just given the amount of noise that's generated when the signal hits that, that fracture. And that's of course, where some of my father's deep skill sets in digital signal analysis actually came in rather handy. We did ultimately succeed in developing an algorithm that can pull the signal out of the norm.
And I actually correlate that signal with one of the stages of fracture healing that's going to be a game changer for for this space to actually give patients the confidence, to know that the device is working and to give the physician the chance to pivot the treatment before.
[00:11:47] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And so what do you envision as a next step? What's the current process at that son-of-a-gun medical?
[00:11:56] Jason Winder: We are absolutely working to [00:12:00] to build that, that that prototype device for clinical testing. So we are in the process of trying to raise funds for that that's now a design build and validation phase that has to be conducted under a good laboratory practices.
There's as as well as I the amount of documentation the FDA appropriately requires for these things is not insubstantial. So that's our next step is to really get that clinical prototype built.
[00:12:32] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. Not to give away your secret sauce, in terms of.
Business strategy that you guys have used in terms of, doing this study and positioning this article and things like that and giving that broader view of what the technology might do in your I Tripoli paper, I think is a pretty smart one. I think it's one that, that, other entrepreneurs could, it could definitely leverage [00:13:00] as well.
I just think it's super. A S a super smart strategy to have a peer reviewed article it's out there. Especially in for a medical device, that makes a heck of a lot of sense.
[00:13:14] Jason Winder: Yeah. We're excited about it. The, and this is I think parallel to my cybersecurity days where, if the secret encryption algorithm isn't peer reviewed then it's likely.
So we've seen some some recent high profile examples of what happens and how easy it is for junk science to get pretty far in the investment process. And the goal here was to create a real solid foundation, a technical peer reviewed foundation for our technology and and see what comes with it.
It's it's rather exciting. And it's. Fun to do, be working in a space that can really directly and clearly help people that perhaps isn't as a few tiles, I [00:14:00] feel like cyber is on most days.
[00:14:02] Don Davis PhD, MBA: It was funny. I G cause either way, I feel like you're helping things, helping, people, either way, but I can completely understand, you're wanting to be in, in and healthcare and working on this technology I guess in terms of, your past business experiences that you've had though, you were a founder before and a CTO before, how has that helped you now at son-of-a-gun?
To help carry things forward?
[00:14:39] Jason Winder: There, there's a fantastic parallel from cyber security specifically into the whole founder startup processes that notion of de-risking a business. That's really the only thing that I'm an expert in is risk management. I've been doing that and working in that space now for close to 30 [00:15:00] years.
And I think that is the single most important skill that a founder needs in order to move a business from the idea stage all the way through through. And I think that the old, the adage of working on the business versus in the business is very important. And we all make some of those mistakes early on and hopefully learn from them.
[00:15:24] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. I coached people. One of the diagrams I oftentimes use is you can have on the vertical axis everything around your thought process is around the innovation that you're working on. And then on the sort of horizontal axis is all the business process that you have to be able to scale an organization.
And my, my, my point of view oftentimes is that, you can get focused on one or the other. Too much. And then that will lead you nowhere. You can be [00:16:00] graded innovation that will never serve the public, or you can be great at business process that will never support a company. And so you have to be careful and maintain that balance.
Somehow overall as a leader as well.
[00:16:13] Jason Winder: Yeah, absolutely. One of the first things they did when we decided we're going to move ahead with Sonogen and was I put together a list of a couple of hundred requirement. Across a variety of different spaces, including legal and technical and managerial that all needed to be put in place in order for the thing to be properly de-risked and to move it forward.
It's everything from incorporating the business and getting an employee ID number to filing patents, to getting a DUNS number and getting a, a stock instead of plan in place. And all of that. The myriad necessary that you need to do in order to actually have [00:17:00] a functional business. And so the exercise over the last a year and a half has been really to just work that burn down list and really just eliminate as much risk as I possibly could from the business and try to get ahead of some of the stuff that I knew I'd need to have in place in order to get to the next stage.
So it's a, the struggle is real, but it's also a lot of fun to see something come from.
[00:17:23] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And I guess that leads me to the next question, which is company size and things like that. Oftentimes, becomes something that is a concern for certain founders as well. I know that there's some founders that have told me that, look beyond a five or 10 person company.
They're not really interested. Being a founder any longer. What do you envision, as the company grows and things like that. You saw this probably at your cybersecurity company as well, that, as you had more and more people and complexity and things like that I [00:18:00] guess what are you envisioning with regards to son-of-a-gun?
[00:18:05] Jason Winder: I think you need to make a strong differentiation in your mind as a founder. If you have a small business or. Airstone was designed as a small business. Our goal was to create a nice little company so that we could do some great work and eat regularly and live indoors.
And ultimately that's worked we've done a great job. We have a great little company it's self-sustaining at this point saunas, on the other hand Sonogen and is going public. We are carrying this all the way through it. Our goal is not to sell out to the first work that buys us a meat pie.
We are going to bring this device to market. You're going to help people. And we are going to apply our technology to some other really exciting spaces. We have opportunities in military battlefield care wound, healing, [00:19:00] spinal fusion, healing even veterinary care. The goal here is to build a world-class organization that can.
Leverage therapeutic acoustics to actually solve a lot of very serious medical problems.
[00:19:16] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. I as an owner of great Danes, I've had a great Dane who broke a toe once. And I definitely would have loved to have gone down the the bone healing route rather than having a dog in a cast, which is a whole different experience.
[00:19:36] Jason Winder: No, it's just, it's absolutely interesting that that dogs actually tend to suffer injuries, very similar to high performance athletes. The canine equivalent of an ACL tear. It was the cranial cruciate ligament tear is very common. It's a very expensive surgery and it doesn't have a great survival rate.
It's I think only something only [00:20:00] 70% of animals survive. And to be able to apply a a fracture healing technology to that surgery, which actually involves actually inducing an osteotomy to read level that the, that ligament is it would be great. We'd actually be helping helping animals and helping owners as well.
So very exciting stuff.
[00:20:23] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, it was excellent. And there are three questions that I like to ask every guests, Jason what inspired.
[00:20:33] Jason Winder: Oh, man. I, I love a challenge as probably a by now. I am absolutely in my element when I'm learning and we're working to bring ideas to life.
I I can't stand the armchair. I really liked just rolling up my sleeves and getting out there and doing something. So that's it's fun for
[00:20:53] Don Davis PhD, MBA: me. You've definitely found the right place. Given at least what I'm hearing [00:21:00] is that we. Potentially see Sonogen and do just one thing in the market.
We honestly we'll probably see you reach even further and, continue things forward. It sounds to me like you're in the right place to be able to do that.
[00:21:15] Jason Winder: Here's to hoping man.
[00:21:17] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. What concerns.
[00:21:20] Jason Winder: What concerns me? Obviously I can just turn on the news today and find a lot to be concerned about, but I, I am most concerned about what I would call the big, scary underfunded problems.
These are the problems that are going to have a massive damaging effect to the world which are absolutely coming like a freight train and just aren't getting the funding that they. I've been blathering on about that for several years now. And I've always included global pandemic preparation on that list.
That's I think hopefully self evident to everyone now. But there are others [00:22:00] things like artificial intelligence global climate change access to clean water. These are just incredibly dangerous. Problems that just unfortunately are not getting the actual research funding that, that I think they need in order to reach positive.
[00:22:19] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And I know definitely in our space, I've routinely said that I've had a few individuals that that we both know that we're working on crucial things and they're struggling to get funding and you continue to see this happen. And then you wonder, how long can they make.
Can they appropriately make it, to the next step? The valley of death, as we know, is not one valley of death, it's multiple. And so most companies are having to fight this fight, give funding, make sure that they make it over the next hump and continue forward.
And. It just in our space, I can [00:23:00] continue to see that. And I think in a broader sense, to all the things that you said, it just seems like there are so many things to work on. But oftentimes, the things that are getting funding a lot of times are the shiny, the shiny thing that most people would apply funding for.
I know I'm seeing a fair amount of funding in next generation sequencing. A fair amount of funding in just, continuing to build better and better AI models in different aspects. But there's a lot to be done. And I know that there's limited dollars, but at the same time, it seems having funding to work on, key medicines or things that will essentially prepare us for the next pandemic makes a lot of.
[00:23:50] Jason Winder: Yeah, that's absolutely true. And we've got to tackle that problem from multiple angles on the education side on the the ROI expected time horizon [00:24:00] side. Unfortunately we tend to be a rather short-term in our outlook and it really makes it difficult to, to, for some of these technologies to actually see the light of day when some when the payload might be four or five, you've been 10 years.
So it's we're going to have to change a few things. If we want to remain competitive that. Yeah, keep this planet operating under, we'll call them hospitable conditions. Sure.
[00:24:28] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And I think, I just think again, to go back to and gin medical first, second again, just where you guys currently are in terms of.
Getting funding and, looking to continue to grow the company and things like that. Honestly, sounds like you're in a decent spot, but at the same time, as I said, there's a lot to be done. You guys have already carried a lot on your own shoulders, from [00:25:00] 2017 until recently.
But yeah, there's still a lot to be done before you, you're out in the. And moving
[00:25:08] Jason Winder: forward. Absolutely. And it's funding beyond the scope of what we call friends and family funding. The way that this works for us is if we get some angels or, venture investment firms excited enough in us to invest, the 10 million we're going to need in order to get all the way through human clinicals which is not in substantial amount of.
So even with all the de-risking in the world there's still the, just the time horizon and the what I feel are sometimes unrealistic internal rate of return targets and we're just going to have to plug away at it and hope we find some investors are.
See the excitement and I believe in us and it's not a problem. Unique to us. There are a thousand [00:26:00] companies that are having these same discussions right at this very minute, all over America. And I think as a, just as a question of national competitiveness I do think we need to do more to try to get these companies just somehow moving and on their way.
I think there are some concrete changes we could make there that that maybe we need to reserve for another podcast. Yeah,
[00:26:25] Don Davis PhD, MBA: absolutely. And what excites you?
[00:26:30] Jason Winder: What excites me? I love just applying scientific discovery to real-world problems. Just like we've been talking, there's always been a huge gap there.
We have this massive backlog of ideas is, and I just think we need to do a better. Aligning funding to opportunity for the highest impact and figuring out some way to, really help industry de-risk. Some of these [00:27:00] investments through peer review and through through vetting processes I think it's a place where the government could step in, not for the funding but to really help with that de-risking process.
And I think there's more we can do also just to encourage stem education so that we get more people. Up through the process and up through the schooling and get people to work on some of this, some of these challenges, hopefully hopefully that starts moving in the right track.
[00:27:26] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. I think at least in terms of some of the things that I'm seeing, just with regards to stem and, the exciting, growth that they're seeing overall just around the U S it has been phenomenal.
We're seeing more and more Women enter science, but also, just more and more diverse populations enter scientific population, which is helpful for all of us because again, to go back to [00:28:00] clinical trials, we oftentimes talk about having.
Decentralized diverse clinical trials and, the best way to do that is to have people constantly thinking about these populations and how do we bring them in, especially if they don't have the same access to tools and locations like other places have. And a first world.
Problem definitely for all of us to solve and having, more people in the space that use scientific methods to solve problems is a great great thing to have.
[00:28:38] Jason Winder: Yeah. Concur and teaching that scientific method to try to get people to perhaps be a little bit more discriminating in their.
In their thinking and in their adoption of ideas and being able to tell a fact from fiction out in the news and elsewhere, I think all of that will have a fantastic improvement. It's sir I [00:29:00] haven't really I don't really have a good sense of how well some scientific method is being taught in schools these days.
And however it's being taught, my suspicion is they need to do a better job.
[00:29:15] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, I it's funny cause I oftentimes, I used to do this with my kids whenever they were home. We would often have these Q and a sessions where I would play, I would try my best to play dumb and continually just ask questions and not have the answers and just continue to to question why w why do we think this happens?
Why do we think a particular, scientific principle might be happening. So that we go beyond even, what's in the books and is available. But I, I frequently would say to the educators as well of my kids and my kids are all grown at this point. The, [00:30:00] this idea of.
Teaching people how to question is a critical skill, a much more critical skill than having the answer as part of what we should be seeking through the questioning process. But I feel like w we don't do enough of that. And it leads oftentimes to people to just accept answers that aren't really answers.
And and so just wonder if there couldn't just be more time spent teaching kids to ask good questions and understanding the questioning process a little bit better.
[00:30:39] Jason Winder: Yeah. And I don't think we can put this on parents. I think it's a, an unrealistic to imagine that every parents in the country is going to have a functional command of the Socratic method.
I feel like that's something that our school system really needs to address even as. And encourage, more stem [00:31:00] adoption and encourage just really critical thinking in general. I feel like that there's more that needs to be done there. And, the fact that higher education is just financially out of reach of so many still today.
I have a good friend whose daughter just got into one of them. Yeah, premier private universities in Tokyo. One of the, I think it's the oldest university in the country and the tuition there is about $10,000 a year. And you can just compare that with these astronomical tuitions, 50, 60, 75 K a year, and some of our better schools.
And it's just unrealistic to imagine. Every every worthy child is going to have access to that kind of backend. So we've got to do better.
[00:31:57] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Absolutely. Jason [00:32:00] winder, thank you so much for spending time with me today on the life science success podcast. I greatly appreciate it. And I also enjoyed hearing much more about bone healing and all the work that you're doing at Sonogen.
And so thank you.
[00:32:12] Jason Winder: That was my great pleasure, Don Davis. Thanks for having