September 30, 2023
Course correction: USF's medical simulation center switches strategies

Photo: USF Health

CAMLS makes extensive use of patient simulators and other high-tech medical devices.

Southwest Florida Roundup

Course correction: USF's medical simulation center switches strategies

Amy Martinez | 7/27/2016

In 2012, the University of South Florida opened a $38-million medical simulation center in downtown Tampa to teach midcareer doctors and other health care professionals hightech procedures.

The 90,000-sq.-ft. Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) features robotic surgery equipment, a virtual operating theater and a research and innovation lab where medical device makers can develop new products.

The center’s business strategy was to make money from fees paid by attendees or their employers and from contracts with device companies. But CAMLS didn’t draw as many customers as it had planned. Last fiscal year, it hosted about 21,160 “learners,” nearly 30% fewer than its initial projection of 30,000.

After a recent leadership shakeup, CAMLS is now changing its strategy to accommodate more USF students, with an eye toward improving the school’s academic programs. “The old approach was to be primarily an entrepreneurial endeavor,” says Edmund Funai, COO at USF Health. “What we’ve decided to do is make CAMLS much more academic.”

The change comes as USF prepares to move its medical school from its main campus in north Tampa to a new building downtown, where students and faculty will be within a 10-minute walk of CAMLS. Funai says CAMLS will continue to provide industry-sponsored training events, but academics will be “on an equal footing.”

A third of the facility’s revenue already comes from public funds to support academic programs — CAMLS educates USF medical students and residents and is home to a certified registered nurse anesthetist program.

“Our students are just as important as industry, and we don’t want them crowded out,” Funai says.

Meanwhile, a similar institution, Florida Hospital’s 54,000-sq.-ft. Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement, which opened in November 2011, remains “purely entrepreneurial,” says Chief Technology Officer Dr. Roger Smith. The center, next to the hospital’s Celebration campus, provides robotic, laparoscopic and other surgery training to some 15,000 practicing physicians from the U.S. and abroad each year.

Smith says physicians are in “a constant arms race to keep up” with new techniques, driving demand for more advanced training. Paid attendance at the Nicholson Center is growing about 10% annually, he says. “We make enough money to more than break even.”

Innovation: Connected Vehicles

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Transportation picked Tampa as one of three locations nationwide to conduct a study of connected-vehicle technology. (The other sites are New York City and Wyoming.) With a $17-million federal grant, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority will install technology that enables vehicles to receive up-to-the-second information about road conditions and hazards, such as when a traffic light is about to turn red or a pedestrian is at a crosswalk. The purpose of the three-year study is to track the technology’s ability to prevent crashes, reduce traffic jams and increase fuel efficiency. Starting later this year, some 500 drivers and smartphone-carrying pedestrians will participate in tests along Meridian Avenue in downtown Tampa and provide feedback to the expressway authority.

Business Briefs

CLEARWATER — Johnson & Johnson bought Clearwater hair-care products company Vogue International for $3.3 billion. The deal made Vogue founder and 51% owner Todd Christopher a billionaire, with an estimated net worth of $1.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

COLLIER COUNTY — County commissioners voted in favor of a $3-million state and local incentives package to attract an unidentified company pledging to create 560 jobs over five years and invest $63 million.

FORT MYERS — Lee Memorial Health System will expand its regional cancer center to make room for a larger pharmacy, palliative care, genetic counseling and survivorship programs.

NAPLES — Naplesbased law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross expanded to Boca Raton, its fourth location in Florida.

SARASOTA COUNTY — Houston-based energy services provider Direct Energy will close its Sarasota office, cutting 159 jobs. The county commission voted 4-1 against offering North American Roofing of Asheville, N. C., $720,000 in local incentives to relocate its headquarters, citing opposition from the area’s building industry.

Local law firm Icard Merrill opened new offices in Port Charlotte and Fort Myers, giving it four locations in southwest Florida.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined investment firm Raymond James $17 million, saying it failed to adequately take steps to prevent money laundering. A 5,330-sq.-ft. penthouse at the Ovation condo tower on Beach Drive sold for $6.9 million cash, a record amount for a condo in the region.

TAMPA — The city council voted to spend $35.5 million to redo the 23-acre Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park along the Hillsborough River near downtown.

Citigroup is relocating 150 jobs from Connecticut to its Tampa HR center. Miami-based private equity firm H.I.G. Capital acquired AVISPL, an audio video systems integrator. Fort Lauderdale-based discount airliner Silver Airways began offering daily flights to Nassau, Bahamas, from Tampa International Airport.

TAMPA BAY — A trade mission to Costa Rica in April generated $12.1 million in projected export sales, according to the Tampa Bay Export Alliance, a joint effort of Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

TARPON SPRINGS — Duckworth Steel Boats was chosen to build a $6-million research vessel for the Florida Institute of Oceanography.


Lakeland Regional Health promoted Danielle Drummond to a newly created role of COO. Drummond joined LRH in 2013, overseeing strategy and growth.

Tervis Tumbler in Venice tapped Rogan Donelly, son of Chairman Norbert Donelly, to succeed Pat Redmond as president.

The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. hired Craig Richard as president and CEO. Richard, a longtime economic development leader, previously was CEO of Invest Atlanta, the city’s development authority.

John Woolschlager, who previously led the Center for Sustainability at St. Louis University, became director of Florida Gulf Coast University’s Emergent Technologies Institute.

Steve Queior, president and CEO of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, resigned after 13 years in the position.


Tags: Southwest, Education, Healthcare, Technology/Innovation

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