RSF executive relocates brain surgery medical company to Solana Beach

Joe Burnett at ClearPoint's new headquarters in Solana Beach.

Joe Burnett, CEO of ClearPoint Neuro and a Rancho Santa Fe resident, recently relocated his company headquarters from Orange County to Solana Beach. The company is focused on improving the quality of life for patients with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and rare childhood genetic disorders.

The ClearPoint Neuro system is a unique surgical platform that provides real-time MRI guidance for a range of minimally invasive brain procedures. Applications of ClearPoint’s products include deep-brain stimulation, laser ablation, biopsy, neuro-aspiration and the delivery of drugs, biologics and gene therapy to the brain.

A father of three, Burnett has lived in San Diego for 15 years, the last five in Rancho Santa Fe. Originally from the East Coast, he earned his degree in biomedical engineering and MBA from Duke University and has been in the medical devices field for his entire career, primarily in cardiology before making the switch to neurosurgery.

In 2017, he was named the new president and CEO for ClearPoint, then called MRI Interventions, to help lead the next phase of growth. At the time, the company was smaller and focused on neurosurgery navigation. Burnett said they worked tirelessly to pivot their product into more of a therapy-enabling tool.

Joe Burnett, with his family, at ClearPoint's public offering in February.
(Libby Greene)

In February 2020 ClearPoint was listed on the NASDAQ and raised $50 million in its first offering. “(The company) is in the strongest place that it’s ever been,” Burnett said.

The ClearPoint system is intended as an alternative to procedures that have traditionally used stereotactic methodology, in which the patient is awake during most or all of the procedure to monitor responses.

“A lot of patients are scared at the thought of neurosurgery and being awake,” Burnett said. “The system is MRI-compatible so that the patient can be put asleep, allowing the surgeon to see exactly what’s going on with the MRI.”

Currently the system is installed in 60 clinical sites in the country—one of them being UC San Diego. Burnett said the goal is to set up centers of excellence for neurosurgery, to provide better patient care and outcomes and enable physicians to treat more patients.

“What we’re most excited about is gene therapy and stem cell delivery,” Burnett said of the company’s MRI-guided drug delivery device that can infuse drugs into the brain to treat diseases like ALS, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s.

The company has partnered with more than 20 biologics and pharmaceutical companies and is in various stages of research and regulatory trials.

The new Solana Beach home of ClearPoint is located in the Brixton building on South Sierra Avenue, across the street from Fletcher Cove. In addition to the ocean views, Burnett said the move to Solana Beach enabled them to attract great local San Diego talent and being right next to the train station provides a benefit for commuters.

Manufacturing will remain in Orange County and Solana Beach will serve as corporate headquarters in addition to a training surgery suite where they plan to bring in surgeons from all over the world to teach them how to use the ClearPoint system.

The Solana Beach HQ will have about 20 staff members with plans to double in the coming months. After this pandemic year, Burnett said the staff is anxious to get back into a traditional working environment, to motivate each other and generate ideas: “The speed of innovation requires people to be close together and connected,” he said.

Burnett is also looking forward to making connections through community outreach in Solana Beach, to share with patients that are struggling with essential tremors, Parkinson’s and epilepsy the kinds of treatment options that are available.

“Solana Beach continues to thrive by offering an unparalleled quality of life with a friendly and welcoming small-town vibe for both residents and businesses,” said Jewel Edson, Solana Beach City Council member. “The City of Solana Beach strives to work as a partner in supporting our established businesses and attracting new companies to our city. We are thrilled to welcome the headquarters and training arms of ClearPoint Neuro, Inc. to Solana Beach.”

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