Cephus Simmons’s career is nothing short of extraordinary. What began as four years working as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy has progressed to the launch of his own business, SealCath, with a stop in Chapel Hill along the way.
Simmons graduated in 2007 from the Post-baccalaureate Radiologist Assistant program and later in 2012 with a Master’s in Radiologic Science from the Division of Radiologic Science within the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Allied Health Sciences. His time in Chapel Hill was unique – he was a nontraditional student with more than a decade of work experience, four children and a full-time job after class.
“The knowledge I gained during my time at UNC was excellent,” says Simmons. “Even though I had been working in radiology for years, what I learned within the Radiologist Assistant program shifted the way I thought about approaching procedures and supported my career growth.”
Program Completion Spurs Creative Innovation On the Job
For 11 years Simmons worked as an Interventional Radiology Operations Manager at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston. When he returned after receiving his MRS from UNC, his role shifted to Radiologist Assistant (RA) and he became consistently more involved in developing processes, protocols and ideas to improve patient and practitioner experiences.
“When I first started as an RA, I got right to work and followed the existing processes and protocols, for each patient and procedure,” says Simmons. “As I matured in the role, I began thinking more about ways to improve myself and my team. I developed three new protocols to help patients get in and out of the hospital quicker while increasing revenue, which were beneficial changes for all parties.”
Simmons’s critical thinking skills were cultivated during his time in the Division of Radiologic Science and have directly impacted his most recent endeavor, the launch of SealCath and a shift to full-time business owner.
“I was performing a pediatric procedure, a tough case, and I couldn’t keep air in the colon with the catheter I was using. I knew we needed a better product, but I couldn’t find one anywhere,” says Simmons. “I started drawing pictures of what we needed, discovered there was nothing like it on the market, and started working through the process of developing the Cephus Catheter.”
Changing Healthcare with the Cephus Catheter
The Cephus Catheter is a double balloon colorectal catheter intended to instill air or fluid into the colon. The catheter incorporates two inflatable balloons: one spherical and a secondary tapered balloon. The augmentation of the two balloons creates an airtight rectal seal.
Simmons did most of the research himself, developed a pilot study, created a prototype and then launched a study that was funded by the NIH. The successful study concluded in 2018, and the Cephus Catheter was cleared by the FDA and patented in the US in 2019 and in Canada in 2020.
During the research phase Simmons discovered additional uses for the product. This prompted a design that supports a range of medical providers including radiologists, pediatric surgeons, gastroenterologists, internists and family practitioners in their efforts to improve the efficiency, efficacy and productivity of various procedures. He continues to find new applications for the Cephus Catheter and is encouraged by the positive feedback he’s received from medical facilities across the country that have put it to use.
“I’m proud to offer a product that benefits both children and adults and can improve healthcare in general,” says Simmons. “The original procedure that prompted me to explore a catheter solution took me 40 minutes, and I recently performed the same procedure using the Cephus Catheter in just three minutes. It’s exciting and rewarding to see how far we’ve come.”
Simmons notes that the Cephus Catheter is currently in use at facilities in Florida, South Carolina, Maine, Arizona and Illinois, and he expects further growth as relevant medical procedures pick up.
Cephus Simmons, PHD, MRS (’07) is the founder of SealCath and Professor Emeritus at the Medical University of South Carolina.