Who will be the next Medtronic? What will be Minnesota's next breakthrough industry? James Walsh will provide the latest information and commentary on the people, companies and trends driving innovation in Minnesota. From visionary entrepreneurs to game changing technologies, this blog offers a window into the future of Minnesota's economy.

Posts about Minnesota newsmakers

New London man recognized for being CardioSmart

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: February 24, 2014 - 11:26 AM

A Minnesota man has been recognized by the American College of Cardiology for transforming his life, and his body, after a procedure to treat his atrial fibrillation.

Marcus McCleery of New London weighed nearly 400 pounds, largely due to his heart condition, making it nearly impossible for him to live an active life. But, after two surgeries in two years, McCleery took back control of his life.

Over time, as he became more and more active and was smarter about what he ate, McCleery lost 183 pounds. The one-time couch potato now participates in triathlons, is an avid cyclist, runner and kayaker. He volunteers for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. He also created the Web site: , www.move15minutesaday.com.

For his example, McCleery was recognized by the ACC’s “I am CardioSmart” Contest.

The Star Tribune featured McCleery’s journey here: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/181118921.html

For more information about the symptoms of atrial fibrillation and its treatments, go here: www.cardiosmart.org/Heart-Conditions/Atrial-Fibrillation.

Villafana honored by University of Iowa

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: December 9, 2013 - 10:26 AM

Got this notice from the University of Iowa:

Medical device pioneer

Manny Villafana will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree in recognition of his contributions to biomedical device development, biomedical engineering, civic leadership, and student success. He’ll be awarded the degree at the May 17 College of Engineering commencement.

Portrait of Manny Villafana
Manny Villafana

“Manny Villafana rose from modest beginnings to become one of the world’s preeminent innovators in the area of medical devices,” says UI College of Engineering Dean Alec Scranton. “His amazing ability to identify and develop important new medical devices has touched countless lives.”

Villafana worked with companies Picker International and Medtronic before launching a career as an entrepreneur. In 1971, he launched Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc., which revolutionized the field with the long-life lithium iodine pacemaker, a technology that still makes up most of the market.

He also founded Guidant Corporation to focus on cardiovascular health care products; St. Jude Medical, which introduced the bi-leaflet mechanical heart valve; GV Medical, manufacturer of a device to open blood vessels; Helix BioCore (later ATS Medical), whose bi-leaflet valve reduced clots and improved blood flow; and CABG Medical to create an artificial graft for coronary bypass surgery.

In 2007, Villafana launched Kips Bay Medical, a medical device company that focuses on developing, manufacturing and commercializing its proprietary external saphenous vein support technology, or eSVS MESH®, for use in coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery. He currently serves as founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Kips Bay Medical.

Villafana and his wife Elizabeth Elder Villafana—a UI Tippie College of Business alumna—are strong supporters of the UI College of Engineering. He helped develop the college’s biomedical engineering department into the nationally recognized program it is today, and provided gifts to establish the Elder Computer Laboratory and enhance facilities available to all UI engineering students.

A new face at Med-Tech Institute

Posted by: Updated: October 27, 2011 - 2:42 PM

Med-tech veteran Dr. Susan Alpert has been named Executive in Residence of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI) at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

You’ll recall Alpert recently retired from Medtronic, where she was a senior vice president and chief regulatory officer since 2005. Before that, she held a variety of positions at the FDA, including director of the Office of Device Evaluation. She’s a microbiologist and a pediatrician by training.

Professor Stephen Parente, who also serves as MILI’s director, said in a news release that Alpert will be involved in many activities, including teaching, interacting with the university and business communities, advising and generating ideas “to help further the mission of MILI."

Alpert has been involved with the Institute for more than five years, and is one of its founding members of MILI’s National Industry Council.

Janet Moore covers medical technology for the Star Tribune.


More from Omar

Posted by: Updated: October 19, 2011 - 1:08 PM

We interviewed Medtronic's new chairman and CEO Omar Ishrak earlier this week, but couldn't fit everything in the story. Here are the outtakes.

Ishrak discusses, the FDA, growing up in Bangladesh, and his career at GE.

Janet Moore covers medical technology for the Star Tribune.




More drama in legal tussle involving 3M

Posted by: Updated: October 7, 2011 - 4:49 PM

The bitter legal tussle between 3M and investors and lawyers involved with a failed acquisition took an unusual turn on Thursday.

First, a bit of background.

The $27 billion Maplewood-based conglomerate was sued in the United Kingdom by a group of investors called Porton Capital Inc. and a subsidiary of the British Defense Ministry. They claimed 3M failed to aggressively market their homegrown technology, called BacLite, which detects potentially deadly superbugs in hospitals.

The initial pricetag in the deal was $16 million with potential earn out-payments of up to $69 million.

A few years later, 3M shut the business down, saying the BacLite technology was a bust.

Last May, Porton representatives, including Washington lawyer Lanny J. Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, and Twin Cities attorney, Robert Hopper, held a press conference in Minneapolis to discuss the issue. Porton also launched a website, organized demonstrations and issued several news releases protesting 3M’s decision to shelf BacLite. They called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the matter.

In short, they said a potentially life-saving technology was unceremoniously ditched by 3M.

3M responded in June by filing a federal lawsuit, first in New York, then later refiled in the District of Columbia, against Porton CEO Harvey Boulter and Davis. The complaint alleges they engaged in defamation, conspiracy and blackmail in an effort to extract millions from the company. They also alleged that Porton’s public relations campaign was intended to embarrass Sir George Buckley, 3M’s British-born CEO, who was recently knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

On Thursday, Davis filed an “anti-SLAPP” motion in the District of Columbia suit, claiming the company has attempted to thwart his right to speak on “an important public health matter by filing a tactical lawsuit” against him.

SLAPP is short for “strategic lawsuit against public participation” — that is, a suit intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with huge legal costs, at least until they give up the fight.

In a statement, 3M lawyer William A. Brewer III said, “Our client views this as another desperate attempt to deflect from the merits of the lawsuit it filed against Mr. Davis. Needless to say, we understand completely why Mr. Davis will make any and all attempts to avoid having his conduct and that of his clients scrutinized. We think that this, together with the other actions he has made, will be unavailing.”

Janet Moore covers medical technology for the Star Tribune.




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