With a decade of experience in emergency medical services, Miranda Baras (M.I.S. ’22) is pursuing a new career focused on biotechnology and medical devices and has even launched her own startup medical device company.
By LaTina Emerson
After working as an EMT and paramedic on ambulances and in emergency departments for the last 10 years, Miranda Baras wanted a change of pace and to move up in her career.
“There’s a heavy rate of burnout [for paramedics] because of the nature of the work you’re doing,” Baras said. “It can be very rewarding, but it can be very taxing, especially with COVID.”
Looking for new career options, Baras, a former firefighter, was accepted into a bridge nursing program that allows paramedics to earn a degree in nursing in a year and a half. However, Baras preferred to earn an advanced degree. She learned about the Biomedical Science and Enterprise master’s program in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences.
“I was so excited when I found the program,” Baras said. “I didn’t think I had many options. I started the program on the research track initially, but after taking some classes, I fell in love with the business side of things and switched to the professional track.”
The Atlanta native is the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree. While enrolled full-time in graduate school, Baras juggled three part-time jobs. She worked in patient care in the emergency departments at Grady Hospital and the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. She was also a graduate research assistant in Leszek Ignatowicz’s lab in the institute’s Center for Translational Immunology, all while launching her own biotech company with a biomedical engineering student from the University of Cincinnati.
In the Biomedical Science and Enterprise master’s program, Baras learned valuable lessons on how to bring the idea for a drug or device to the market.
“What started as my capstone project is now my startup company, Teravus,” Baras said. “We are working on a device/system to assist with waiting room management and triage acuity for emergency departments. I have been working in emergency departments for the last eight years, and I have seen and felt the pain of the problem that we are working to solve.”
With triage acuity, a scale of one to five is assigned to patients that come to the emergency department. The scale is based on the severity of the condition and the number of resources needed, with one being the most urgent/emergent and five being the least urgent/emergent.
“The project is significant because there is a national shortage of healthcare providers, and patient volumes are on the rise, leading to extended waiting room times,” Baras said. “During extended wait times, there is potential for stable waiting room patients to get sicker and decompensate. But we don’t have enough staff all the time to make rounds and check on the waiting room. Our device would help automate that process using AI. The device would check in on patients, assign triage acuity scores and flag providers if patients are decompensating.”
In summer 2022, Baras worked as a product management intern at Cook Medical, a medical device company headquartered in Bloomington, Ind. She had used the company’s products during her work in trauma centers and wanted to learn more.
Baras met her startup business partner during this internship. They’ve applied for a business license, and they will apply for grant funding next year to assist with discovery and validation testing.
In the lab, Baras has been studying peripheral and regulatory T-cells. There’s still a mystery regarding how these immune cells function and why they do certain things.
“I had never worked in a lab before this program,” Baras said. “I get to work with two postdocs who are very inspirational women in STEM, so it’s primarily a female-dominated lab, which I thought was really cool. It’s so exciting to see that.”
Ultimately, Baras is seeking a career focused on medical devices or biotechnology. Her dream job is a clinical specialist role, which involves teaching clinicians how to use medical devices.
“You sit in on surgeries and help them trouble shoot and make sure things are properly sized,” Baras said. “I love the education aspect. It’s a different experience to be able to watch a medical device save someone’s life.”
After taking two project management courses, Baras is also considering biotechnology project management jobs at healthcare software or electronic health record companies.
“If you still want to be involved in biomedicine or the healthcare space, but maybe not direct patient care, I think this program is a really good option for people who are looking to make a change,” Baras said. “This program prepares you to help people on a very large scale.”
Photo by Swish Snapshots