A Culture of Making the Impossible, Possible
Elixir Medical CEO Motasim Sirhan is no stranger to challenge. Throughout his career, he has earned a reputation for successfully seeing through the most challenging projects. Here he tells us how his past experiences have influenced Elixir’s culture and team in order to transform the treatment of coronary artery disease with the DynamX™ Bioadaptor.
The “Mission Impossible” Culture
I’m very passionate about what I do – the more difficult and worthwhile the challenge, the more I like it. In fact, in my previous roles in medical technology companies my specialty was “mission impossible” programs. That’s how we decided to found Elixir Medical – the unmet need in percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in the treatment of coronary artery disease was still huge.
Changing a category is a rare opportunity. For a company of our size to have the opportunity to upgrade the category of patient therapy in a way that only extremely large companies are normally capable of doing is humbling. We are aspiring and working towards solving a very difficult and very challenging problem, which can be very tedious in execution, but that’s what it takes to change a paradigm.
Our culture is one with an incredible “can do” attitude. We look beyond technical challenges. There are no ceilings and no boundaries. It’s not for the faint of heart. Compromises are not something we look at favorably, in design or in performance. We focus on finding a no-compromise solution. This approach challenges our thinking because if we think outside the box and we don’t give up easily, then we elevate to a new way of looking at the problem and new ways to solve it so that you do not have compromises.
As frustrating as that is in the front part of the funnel, it is unbelievably sweet when you reach “a-ha” moments and look back and see everything aligned around a beautiful design and a beautiful outcome.
The more you do that, the more it becomes part of your DNA. It’s okay for us to fail – and we fail often – but we continue to be persistent to reach the “no compromise” result.
The “Impossible” Problem Behind the Bioadaptor
The industry was defining successful PCI as how the patient looks after one year. Yet, after one year, the rate of MACE continues to grow at a rate of 2-4% per year, year after year with no plateau, ultimately seeing rates of 20% at 5 years and 40-50% at 10 years. So, there was acute success with PCI, but not long-term success.
What that means to a patient is significant. When a patient is going through a procedure for their heart, they are tremendously anxious, concerned and worried. Their loved ones are equally anxious, concerned and worried. We don’t want to make them live that more than once, with repeat procedures or treatments to address complications – we want to make sure that anxiety, pain and suffering does not continue to propagate throughout their life.
From a physician’s perspective, a big part of their mission is to “do no harm.” Their goal is to provide a therapy that is the best choice for their patients, not just at that moment, but for as long as possible.
No one had effectively solved this problem before because it is a difficult problem. In founding Elixir, we wanted to address that significant problem that others aren’t solving, to transform PCI. We want to flatten the curve of these continuing adverse events and complications so we can positively improve a patient’s experience and their life.
We were a key player in bioresorbable stents that were attempting to solve the problems of drug-eluting stents. We were proud of our solution, but it did not solve the problem in a sustainable way. So, we were essentially faced with exiting as a failure, or if we were true to our most important core value – which is “failure is not an option” – we were going to find a way to get there.
While we were working on BRS, we already had the DynamX Bioadaptor program in its infancy as a way to overcome the shortcomings of BRS platforms with a no-compromise option. How we got there was not as critical as getting there. BRS served to get us to one point, and DynamX came to take it to the finish line. And we transformed ourselves in order to continue on the mission. We are in the midst of our journey, and we are more confident with what we have today in the bioadaptor than what we ever had with the bioresorbable technologies that we knew inherently had limitations and compromises.
We are very excited about our randomized controlled trials for the bioadaptor in progress as we are going head-to-head with the category of current drug-eluting stents. We are encouraged that the results will go a long way in supporting our transformation of PCI. Ultimately, we are delivering an uncompromised therapy that we hope will become the standard of care in the future.
The People Make It Possible
The “mission impossible” approach isn’t for everyone. It takes people that are humble but confident, and not afraid to fail, because with this “no compromise” approach you will fail often until you finally succeed. It takes people that are energized by challenge and like to solve the difficult problems. You need to be able to get up after falling on your face, dust off and face a new day.
We have a team that steps up to the occasion and makes the journey an intellectually challenging and rewarding adventure. Despite this difficult path they signed up for, they are excited about their work every day. We make sure to celebrate the small wins along the way.
It’s rewarding, not just for us as a team, but because of the implications of our work for patients and for physicians.
I have big, audacious dreams and am humbled and blessed that I have this team with me through this journey. They are the ones that make this mission possible, because without them, it would truly be a mission impossible.
About Elixir Medical CEO Motasim Sirhan
Motasim Sirhan founded Elixir Medical to develop innovations that transform patients’ lives. He previously founded Avantec Vascular, co-founded Maya Medical, and served on the board of Apama Medical. Previously, Motasim led several first product categories for Guidant Corporation, including the RX Perfusion PTCA catheter, the PET balloon technology and the market-leading Multi-link stent. He is an inventor or co-inventor on 35 issued and pending patent or patent applications. He was named in Silicon Valley Business Journal’s “30 under 30.” Motasim holds an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas and Arlington, an M.S. in Management from the University of Southern California, and a dual B.S. degree in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California.