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Local company helps CDC mitigate health risks

Mark Parker

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Pat Mack, CEO of St. Petersburg-based PVM, recently signed six new contracts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Photo by Mark Parker.

St. Petersburg native Pat Mack is quick to note he is not an epidemiologist; he is a self-described computer science nerd.

His company PVM, however, utilizes its data evaluation expertise to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduce public health risks by improving its surveillance and outbreak response efforts.

Based out of St. Pete’s Maritime and Defense Technology Hub, Mack, CEO of PVM, recently signed six new contracts with the CDC to improve the organization’s DCIPHER platform. That includes data modernization, migration and the creation of analytic tools and platforms.

In a nutshell, he strives to democratize information in an easily accessible way for those tasked with predicting outbreaks and tracking epidemiological trends on a local level – in real time.

“It’s a lot easier to get out of bed on a rainy day when you know that the work you’re going to do has the potential to save lives,” said Mack. “It sounds a bit cliché, but it’s the reality for us.”

Mack grew up on the city’s southside and, following over two decades in the Navy, founded PVM in 2011 while living in San Diego. After his father’s cancer diagnosis in 2016, Mack returned to the area to care for him and subsequently decided to plant roots in his hometown.

His software engineering company solves problems through data analytics, typically in public service sectors. PVM became a CDC partner in 2015, and Mack said he applied information synthesis techniques he learned in the Navy to the public health workflow.

Mack explained that his team works “hand and glove” with epidemiologists, who present a pathogen and relevant data for PVM to disseminate, digitize and upload into the CDC’s DCIPHER platform. As the partnership progressed, so did the company’s scope of work.

What started with foodborne pathogens, like Salmonella, now includes more nascent infectious diseases. Following the onset of the pandemic, PVM began mapping Covid outbreaks and enhancing the CDC’s System for Enteric Disease Response, Investigation and Coordination (SEDRIC) platform.

In 2020, the CDC presented the SEDRIC team with its Honor Award for Information Technology. That achievement, said Mack, led to the organization increasing its data modernization efforts and six new contracts for PVM, finalized in the last 30 days.

“I’m a St. Pete kid,” said Mack. “And so, the question, I think, is how does that impact us here?”

Mack relayed that he takes all that learning and experience and applies it across the board. PVM, he said, partnered with the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg (FHSP) “in a purely technical consultant role” and called it “a wonderful alignment.”

He noted that FHSP’s mission is to improve health equity throughout the entire population, focusing on underserved communities. That is also what PVM hopes to accomplish through its work with the CDC, explained Mack.

He added that FHSP organizes 40 to 50 targeted events annually, from which it collects a lot of community data. The goal of that partnership, said Mack, is to help the organization efficiently utilize that information to better the city’s health outcomes.

“Cloud computing, enterprise databases – all that stuff we’re applying to this very large federal agency with this national mission. We’re pouring all of that into the problems that folks are trying to address here through the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete.”

That is not the only local benefit stemming from PVM’s expanded role with the CDC.

Mack has established a close relationship with Dr. Tonjua Williams, president of St. Pete College, as part of his expressed objective to bolster opportunities in his hometown. After the CDC awarded PVM the new contracts, he said one of his first messages went to Williams.

The email, he said, let her know that PVM had four new high-paying positions available and asked her to send over candidates.

“As we experience success as a company, it is fully my intent to impact the community here in a meaningful way,” said Mack.

He relayed that PVM, a Palantir-preferred partner, is veteran-owned, and most of its leadership also served. Mack added that all but one company in its portfolio aligns with public security and health initiatives, and the other works with the Federal Reserve.

Every tenant’s lease at the Hub stipulates the company must engage with the community, and Mack expressed his excitement to deliver on that promise.

“Revenue is important to us, but revenue isn’t what drives us,” he said. “What drives us is the impact that we get to make.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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