Getting both professional athletes and weekend warriors back on their feet after an injury has been a significant portion of Disc Sports & Spine Center’s business since its 2006 opening in Marina del Rey.

The medical practice and surgery center of 29 doctors, which specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery and advanced arthroscopic procedures, was the first official medical and spine center for the U.S. Olympic Team, and has similar relationships with teams such as the Los Angeles Kings.

Now, the center has signed its first corporate partnership, agreeing to provide priority care for roughly 150 U.S. athletes who have sponsorship deals with Santa Monica energy drink giant Red Bull North America Inc.

Athletes will use their health insurance to pay for the medical care, but the Red Bull partnership will enable them to obtain easy access and a quick turnaround to get them back in training or competition quickly.

“The athletes will get access to top-level care that helps Red Bull to have better retention of their athletes,” said Disc Chief Executive Dr. Robert Bray, who founded the center and plans to open another surgery center at its Newport Beach clinic by the end of year. “We’ll get massive marketing exposure that we just couldn’t afford to purchase.”

The U.S. subsidiary of Fuschl am See, Austria’s Red Bull GmbH sponsors both conventional and extreme sports athletes and events that include motorsports, surfing and mountain biking. The company is providing the medical services to its sponsored athletes through a program titled High Performance, which offers coaching and counseling services.

High Performance Director Andy Walshe said he became aware of Disc though its Olympics connection, since around 20 of Red Bull’s athletes are current or former Olympians.

Several sponsored athletes already have taken advantage of Disc medical care after potentially career-ending injuries, including big-wave surfer Ian Walsh and BMX racing champ Mike Day.

Iris Cuts Losses

Iris International Inc.’s decision to downsize a money-losing molecular medicine testing operation is getting cheers, with at least one analyst recommending investors resume buying the stock.

The Chatsworth diagnostic testing company acquired AlliedPath Inc., an early stage San Diego company focused on cancer and molecular diagnostics, for about $4.7 million in August 2010 and renamed it Arista Molecular.

Iris will now discontinue nonproprietary Arista testing services where it can’t charge a premium, and merge Arista into the Iris Molecular Diagnostics unit by the end of the month. Research and development operations will also be restructured.


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