Since March 23, 2020, Dr. Patrick Hines, physician, scientist and entrepreneur has spent most of his time between the Detroit Children’s Hospital and a nearby hotel room, where he stays to minimize COVID-19 risk to his family. He occasionally drops by to participate in movie night from a backyard chair while his wife and kids stay inside on the sofa. But Patrick is undaunted by this, saying that helping people is in his DNA. From very humble beginnings in North Carolina, Patrick watched his parents, both teachers, mentor poor rural kids at school and at home; it inspired in him the desire to give back.
Patrick’s dad, a classically-trained baritone, accomplished singer, and choir director at the local college, was also his musical role model. Patrick made his way through college on a music scholarship, playing French horn and trumpet. But all the while, he was drawn to science. Having majored in chemistry at Hampton University, a historically black college in Virginia, Patrick set off to get his PhD but soon realized that research wasn’t enough of a people profession to satisfy his desire to serve. So off he went to medical school at UNC Chapel Hill, where he had the good fortune to meet his clinical mentor and learn about the vastly undeserved clinical needs of people with sickle cell disease.
Patrick, now a PhD and MD, ultimately trained to become a pediatric intensive care physician. He worked first at Children’s Hospital of Philadephia (CHoP) and later at Detroit Children’s Hospital, but he also founded Functional Fluidics, a company that focuses on red blood cell health generally and sickle cell anemia diagnostics specifically. The idea for the company came from his recognition that therapeutics to treat the condition kept failing clinical trials because there was no surrogate endpoint and that he could bring a solution to this problem and to patients who had so few treatment options.
Patrick is now in the process of transitioning out of his regular ICU role to dedicate himself full-time to his young, growing company. Patrick speaks on the podcast about his difficulty raising money as a black founder and how these experiences were even more challenging than some of the prejudice he has faced as a black physician. Given our current discourse on race in America, it is an eye-opening first person account of how someone with significant intellect, experience, and education can come up against the limitations of others’ small thinking. But despite those that have told him his efforts were less than, Patrick has made it pretty clear that he is not giving up – he sees his work as a lifeline to people and intends to live out the helping gene passed on from his parents. Says Patrick, “It is my responsibility to be sure people with sickle cell matter and to get them the medical resources they need.”
Patrick has also returned to music, singing publicly with his dad for the very first time last year. As an avid jazz enthusiast (see below for his favorite song) he is excited to be back around music. And he is especially glad to be leaving his pandemic-driven hotel stay and returning to his family for the everyday hugs, skirmishes and all of the things that were once annoying and are now a joy to experience. Welcome home Patrick and thanks for being on the show!
We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping clients across all industries grow and prosper.
Patrick’s favorite song: