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MVA Scientific Consultants

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Tim Vander Wood, Ph.D., was working on a scientific project for the U.S. Government in 1990, when he realized that the lab he worked in wasn#t equipped to handle it. He joined Jim Millette, Ph.D., and Thomas Hopen, M.S., to open what is now the leading company in the field of microscopy and microanalysis, MVA Scientific Consultants. This June, MVA celebrates 15 years of being #focused on the science of small things.#

Vander Wood, Executive Director and President of MVA, offers an example of the kind of #small things# that have been big business for the Gwinnett County company. #An aspirin manufacturer finds little black specks in its aspirin tablets. It can#t sell them.

It needs to find out what they are and where they came from. We can magnify the specks 100,000 times to see what they are. By combining our results with their knowledge of the company#s process, (MVA) can pinpoint what has changed.#

MVA provides this kind of analysis and scientific support to companies and legal entities all over the world, using electron and light microscopy. These are techniques that are used to analyze materials too small to see with the naked eye # mainly unknown particles and contaminants found in products and the environment.

MVA also helps companies resolve litigation issues, such as product liability issues and intellectual property disputes. An example of the latter was a small local company that had developed an AIDS medication. It enlisted MVA#s help in a patent dispute with a pharmaceutical giant. The thousands of samples required were quite expensive for the small company and even affected its stock.

However, the result of the analysis was that the large pharmaceutical bought the smaller company, in terms that were very favorable to MVA#s client. This case never went to court, but MVA stands by its results by offering expert witness testimony in court when necessary. #It#s not just chemical analysis. We are (also) brought in to help interpret what was found.#

Vander Wood#s background reflects this dual role. He has a PhD in Geophysics and an MBA from Emory. Interestingly, although MVA has its share of chemists and biologists, #most people trained to use microscopes in an analytical way are geologists.# Geologists are trained to look at something in terms of what is, and how it got that way. MVA also has quite a few forensic scientists, because they, too, are trained with the point of view of, #Here it is. Now how did it get this way?#

Currently, MVA is developing research of WTC ( World Trade Center) Dust. #People want to know, #Is it in our building?

Is it harmful (after) the dust is cleaned up? Is the material in it hazardous? And how will that affect the value of the real estate there?##

Vander Wood says MVA has some competitors in the university system, but that his company has the advantage of understanding the business world. #The people that work here are scientists, but more than scientists. We#re more grounded in reality.#