Interview with PolarityTE CEO Denver Lough

This article is part of a series featuring business executives who choose to live and work in Utah. If you know of an executive we should interview, please contact us.

By any definition, Denver Lough is an overachiever. He has both an M.D. and Ph.D. after his name, and you can add entrepreneur to the list as well. Lough is a clinician entrepreneur who co-founded PolarityTE. The company focuses on patient care by developing therapies that empower the human body to regenerate tissue.

A plastic and reconstructive surgeon specializing in burn treatment, Dr. Lough developed a technology that uses natural biological processes to regrow fully functional tissue. He recognized his technology could have a wide-ranging impact on the field of medicine. The technology has far-reaching impacts on the number and types of ailments it can treat, and reduces the overall cost of patient care.

Since its founding two years ago, PolarityTE has raised over $140 million of capital and taken its first product, SkinTE™ from bench to bedside. The product is intended to function as real skin with full thickness and functionality. Lough believes this technology is scalable, possessing similar outcomes in the regeneration of skin, bone, muscle, cartilage and nerve tissue.

How did you get started in the industry?
I spent much of my career in regenerative medicine, but I knew I could make a significant impact on the field outside of academia. As a physician, my work is limited by the number of patients I can see in a day. At PolarityTE, I can be part of reshaping how medicine is practiced and deliver health care solutions to thousands of people worldwide.

What recent professional accomplishments are you are most proud of? After only two years, we launched our first commercial product, SkinTE™, and registered our second product, OsteoTE™, with the FDA. These achievements are nearly unheard of in biotech. We have some of the most talented people at PolarityTE, who are passionate about helping patients find better outcomes. Our accomplishments are driven by a shared passion, shifting the health care paradigm away from costly treatments.

What drew you to Utah?
Utah has a welcoming business environment and a lower cost of doing business. Our decision to locate PolarityTE to Utah is the key to our success. Thanks to the state’s incredible talent pool from its universities, that mission has been accomplished. There is no better choice than Utah.

What do you like most about living in Utah?
This state has it all. Beautiful outdoor places, great entertainment, cultural options, and an impressive and growing culinary presence. Add those to the fact that Utah tops many lists as the best place to live, work, play, raise a family and do business, and you have a pretty special place.

What do you like most about doing business in Utah?
Utah’s supportive business environment has been paramount to our company’s success over the last two years. The state is smart to build infrastructure that supports international distribution for its resident businesses. From here, we can reach customers worldwide, which is a key part of our growth strategy.

What advice do you have for individuals considering starting a business or relocating their business to Utah?
Don’t underestimate Utah. I never considered Utah until a chance meeting with a venture capital investor who touted the state’s business culture. We had no idea of the extensive network in place for new businesses. If you are in the life sciences industry, Utah is the place to thrive.  

What is your primary challenge of doing business in Utah?
We have been fortunate to find a talented workforce that helps propel the PolarityTE story. While we have accomplished much within two short years, we are playing the long game here in Utah. We encourage the state and its elected officials to continue to view education and diversity as major drivers of growth.    

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I’m a start-up CEO with three kids under the age of four at home. All those long days and sleepless nights on call as a Johns Hopkins resident were great training for me.

Is there anything else you would like the reader to know about you? The ability to grow tissue and heal your own body is the holy grail of medicine. The time for regenerative medicine has come, and a shift in the way medicine is practiced. I  believe the shift will come from PolarityTE, and it will come from the state of Utah.

Denver Lough, CEO of PolarityTE, develops therapies that help regenerate tissue. To learn more about Denver, check out his LinkedIn profile.