Leading public health and global health organizations such as the CDC. World-class medical schools and universities. A health care IT industry that’s called the...

Leading public health and global health organizations such as the CDC.

World-class medical schools and universities.

A health care IT industry that’s called the biggest in the country.

Russ Lipari

Russ Lipari

Atlanta and Georgia have tremendous assets in the field of health. But is there any teamwork among them, any synergy, any collaboration?

Russ Lipari, who runs Validus Group, an Atlanta-based corporate development, government affairs and strategic advisory firm, sees a big opportunity to spark new partnerships among health organizations in the region.

Lipari’s vision is to bring these organizations together in a way that fosters dialogue and innovative collaboration.

Or, as Lipari says, “allowing people to play in other people’s sandbox.’’

“The nature of health work does not readily lend itself to much sandbox exploration,’’ he says.

Lipari recently brought together representatives of leading Georgia health organizations for a brainstorming session, with the goal of creating a new health conference next year in Atlanta.

The attendees came from a wide range of organizations, such as the CDC, the American Cancer Society, the Carter Center, Georgia Tech, Emory, Georgia State University, the University of Georgia, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Shepherd Center and the Georgia Hospital Association, and also included leaders of the state’s booming health IT industry.

The Atlanta conference that Lipari envisions, called Health Connect South, would bring these assets together ‘’like never before,’’ he says, providing “a Petri dish’’ for collaboration.

Dennis Liotta, the Samuel Candler Dobbs professor of chemistry at Emory, is an early convert.

Liotta describes how a new partnership arose recently when he met representatives of Morehouse School of Medicine at an event at the Atlanta Aquarium. One of those representatives was Valerie Montgomery Rice, dean of the medical school and its future president.

“We found out we had an enormous amount in common,’’ Liotta says. From that initial conversation, the two institutions set up a clinical trial together to test a drug for hot flashes in post-menopausal women. The aquarium meeting “was a game changer,’’ Liotta says.

“We hope the conference will do that,’’ he adds. “My vision is to set up a conference where we build in participation from every attendee.’’

At the center of this movement is Lipari. “Russ has got the energy, and he’s well connected,’’ Liotta says. “He’s a very persuasive individual but in a low-key way.”

The conference would also invite top students in health as well.

Beyond Health Connect South, the health organizations “could develop an incubator here, similar to the [North Carolina] Research Triangle,’’ says Gary Ulicny, president and CEO of the Shepherd Center.

“Metro Atlanta and Georgia have some real resources in health care the outside world isn’t aware of,’’ Ulicny says.

The key, he says, is moving beyond the initial gathering. “I’m not a big fan of having just a conference. I’m going to push for facilitating interaction.’’

“There’s so much going on here,’’ Ulicny says. “Without this, we wouldn’t bump into each other.’’

Midtown Atlanta

Midtown Atlanta

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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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