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Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty's Devices Revolutionized Vascular Surgery

New York, NY, April 27, 2000 — The Lemelson-MIT Program announced today that its annual $500,000 prize — the world's largest single award for invention and innovation - has been presented to Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty, a pioneer of less invasive surgery. Over the past 40 years, Fogarty has invented medical devices that have saved millions of lives and limbs, developed innovative, vital clinical procedures, founded important medical device firms and trained countless young surgeons, engineers and scientists. Dr. Fogarty is being recognized for his inventiveness and extensive contributions to medicine, society and American enterprise.

To date, Dr. Fogarty personally holds 63 U.S. patents in surgical instrumentation, with additional patents pending. His landmark invention, the Fogarty Embolectomy Catheter, was introduced in 1963 as the world's first balloon catheter used therapeutically in the cardiovascular system. It marked the beginning of less invasive surgery and was a preamble device which led to the development of the world's first balloon cather for angioplasty (1965), a technique routinely used today to treat blocked coronary and peripheral arteries.

This device revolutionized vascular surgery overnight, allowing doctors to remove blood clots without major surgery and transforming a long, complicated, highly invasive operation requiring multiple incisions and a lengthy hospital stay into a one-hour procedure done with a single incision under local anesthesia. Catheter-mediated technology has touched nearly 20 million patients worldwide, many of whom would have otherwise lost limbs, and has become a platform upon which new treatmen modalities may be constructed to allow precise delivery of a therapeutic intervention.

"Tom Fogarty epitomizes American ingenuity and has made a lasting and beneficial impact on society," says economist and Lemelson-MIT Board Chairman Professor Lester C. Thurow. "He is not only remarkably inventive but is also a dedicated mentor and inspiring role model for young scientists, engineers and clinicians."

A recent significant Fogarty invention is the Aortic Stent-Graft, a device that enables minimally-invasive treatment of patients with life-threatening aneurysms who could not otherwise withstand the trauma of a major abdominal surgery. Other Fogarty inventions include Fogarty Surgical Clips and Clamps, which have become standards of care for vascular surgeons to temporarily occlude vessels during surgery, and the Hancock Tissue Heart Valve, the world's first porcine valve, which Fogarty invented with Warren Hancock.

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"Invention is rewarding if done properly and for the right reasons," says Fogarty. "I've achieved the things I've done by asking one question — 'Can it be done better?' I've tried to improve the application of technology to daily patient care. A technology that works in one segment of medicine can, if thought of appropriately, be applied elsewhere successfully." He adds, "Winning the Lemelson-MIT Prize means more to me than any award I could receive, because it is bestowed in the names of an individual, Jerome Lemelson, acknowledged as a premier inventor, and of an institution, MIT, known for technology and innovation."

As an entrepreneur, Dr. Fogarty has impacted the American economy and countless patients by starting and assisting more than a dozen companies that produce products based on his ideas. He is also founder or co-founder of more than 25 smaller start-up companies that manufacture innovative products for the medical/surgical marketplace. In 1980, he established Fogarty Engineering to design and develop ideas for new medical devices. Finally, together with colleagues Mark Wan and Wilf Jaeger, Fogarty co-founded Three Arch Partners, a venture capital fund created to further technological innovation. Three Arch, along with other venture groups, collaborates with Fogarty co-founded with the Stanford University's Medical Device Network to support young inventors and companies that are developing medical devices and products that fill specific market needs.

"Dr. Fogarty is the consummate inventor, always tinkering and trying new ways of approaching problems," says Dr. William R. Brody, President of The Johns Hopkins University, who trained with Fogarty. "While he has innovated outside the field of medicine, his greatest accomplishments have been in the development of innovative medical devices applied to surgical problems. He has single-handedly changed the face of cardiovascular surgery, and I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of the 2000 Lemelson-MIT Prize."

The Lemelson-MIT Prize is awarded annually to a living American inventor-innovator who has significantly contributed to society through invention and who has shown a tireless commitment to stimulating invention and creativity in the US.

Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Lemelson-MIT Program was established in 1994 by the late independent inventor Jerome H. Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy. The Program celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards including the world's largest for invention, the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize. The Program encourages young Americans to pursue careers in the fields of science, engineering, technology and entrepreneurship. The Lemelson-MIT Program is funded by the Lemelson Foundation, which supports other invention initiatives at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Hampshire College, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Read more about Dr. Fogarty.

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