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Versatile Inventor of Medical, Transportation Technologies Will Use Funds for Programs to Excite Children About Science and Invention

San Francisco, CA, April 23, 2002 — The Lemelson-MIT Program announced today that its annual $500,000 prize — the world's largest single award for invention — is being presented to Dean Kamen, a pioneer of medical technologies and a leading advocate for science and invention, particularly among students. Kamen's inventions include a wearable infusion pump that revolutionized drug delivery; a portable dialysis machine that makes it easier for patients to undergo dialysis in their own homes; a robotic wheelchair able to climb stairs and stand upright; and his latest machine—the Segway™ Human Transporter (HT)—the first self-balancing personal transporter for short-distance travel. Kamen, 51, is being recognized by the Lemelson-MIT Program for his tireless efforts both practicing and promoting inventiveness.

Kamen's career has been defined and characterized by two things: an intense commitment to enhancing human capabilities through technology and innovation, and a keen desire to excite high school students about invention, science and engineering.

While an undergraduate at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts, Kamen invented the first wearable infusion pump for delivering precise amounts of medication to patients. The pump was a major breakthrough for diabetics and other patients requiring steady doses of medication. It quickly gained acceptance from the medical community for use with a variety of medical conditions. Patients could use the pump to reliably dispense medication (such as insulin) and lead relatively normal and longer lives, while reducing complications and painful daily injections. Kamen founded his first medical device company, AutoSyringe, Inc., to manufacture and market the infusion pumps. At age 30, he sold the company to Baxter International Corporation.

Kamen later developed a portable peritoneal dialysis machine that was easy for patients to use in the comfort of their own homes; they could even use the device while sleeping. The machine is the size of a VCR and weighs only 22 pounds—much less than the larger machines (some 125 pounds) that required patients to make frequent visits to dialysis centers. Now manufactured and marketed by Baxter International, the HomeChoice™ portable dialysis machine continues to be the worldwide leader in peritoneal dialysis therapy.

"Dean is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known," said Vernon Loucks, Jr., former Chairman and CEO of Baxter International, who recommended Kamen for the Lemelson-MIT Prize. "He is a true genius, in the most precise and broad-reaching sense. His commitment to bettering the lives of people is intense and his inventions keep getting more remarkable."

One of Kamen's most significant inventions is the Independence™ IBOT™ Mobility System, unveiled in 1999. The IBOT is an amazing battery-powered wheelchair designed to give the disabled the same mobility and freedom as people with use of their legs. It can climb stairs and stand upright on two wheels, enabling users to see at eye-level—activities once unthinkable for wheelchair-bound individuals. The IBOT employs an advanced system of sensors, gyroscopes and computers to constantly adjust and balance itself and keep the user stabilized. The IBOT is being marketed and sold by Independence Technology, a Johnson and Johnson Company.

Kamen's latest innovation, which also utilizes the innovative balancing technology, is the Segway™ Human Transporter (HT). The Segway HT is the first self-balancing, electric powered personal transportation machine that emulates human balance. Moving by subtle shifts in body weight, it is the first enhancement to personal transportation that fully integrates the user in the pedestrian world. Prior to its unveiling last December, the Segway HT was simply known as "Ginger" in order to keep the identity of the device secret. Since its introduction, the Segway HT has gained widespread interest from consumers and businesses around the globe. Kamen believes the Segway HT has the potential to improve urban environments by providing a solution to short distance travel that can ultimately reduce pollution and congestion.

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Kamen's contributions to technology and innovation reach well beyond his inventions. Kamen founded the national non-profit organization FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science, technology and engineering in young people, their schools and their communities. FIRST hosts the annual FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students and the FIRST Lego League junior robotics tournaments for children 9-14 years old. In 2002, FIRST competitions will excite more than 30,000 young people about the accessibility, fun and importance of science and engineering. Kamen has announced that he will donate the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize to FIRST.

FIRST is not the only program Kamen has launched to show students that science and technology can be exciting. In 1986, Kamen founded SEE (Science Enrichment Encounters) Science Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, an interactive learning establishment to promote the understanding, enjoyment and achievements of science. Last year, SEE Science Center was visited by more than 50,000 children and their families.

In naming Kamen as this year's $500,000 Prize recipient, Merton Flemings, Director of the Lemelson-MIT Program, expressed admiration for Kamen's accomplishments—including his establishment of FIRST, whose mission is similar to that of the Lemelson-MIT Program: "I can't think of a more deserving innovator to celebrate than Dean Kamen," said Flemings. "He is a true role model for young people. We are particularly proud to honor an inventor whose goals so closely mirror those of Jerry Lemelson and our Program."

Currently, Kamen runs DEKA Research & Development Corporation, a company he founded to develop his many ideas and inventions and to provide research and development support to major corporations. Many of Kamen's inventions have been developed and refined through DEKA. Kamen holds more than 150 US and foreign patents, many of them for groundbreaking medical devices. Among the scientific and engineering awards he has received are the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment (1998), the Hoover Medal (1995), the Kilby Award (1994) and the National Medal of Technology, awarded by President Clinton in 2000.

Previous recipients of the annual $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize include Raymond Kurzweil, artificial intelligence pioneer; Thomas Fogarty, surgical pioneer and inventor of the embolectomy balloon catheter; Carver Mead, physicist who revolutionized the field of microelectronics; Robert Langer, inventor of the first FDA-approved brain cancer treatment; and Douglas Englebart, computing visionary and inventor of the computer mouse. Kamen will be formally presented with the Lemelson-MIT Prize on Wednesday, April 24, at a special ceremony at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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's mission is to raise the stature of inventors and innovators and to foster invention and innovation among young people. It accomplishes this by celebrating inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards, including the world's largest for invention — the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize.

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. Last fall, the Lemelson-MIT Program and MIT Press released Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse (www.inventingmodernamerica.com), an illustrated book that profiles 35 American inventors who helped shape the modern world.

Read more about Dean Kamen.

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