The IEM Academy of Medical Device Innovators was established in 2012 through the University of Minnesota's Medical School and College of Science and Engineering to honor and promote researchers who have had great impact on patients' lives through their work while at the University.


Dr. Kurt Amplatz
Inducted 2012 (Inaugural Class)
Kurt Amplatz, a Professor of Radiology for 40 years, joined the University in 1957 and retired in 1999. A pioneer in the use of noninvasive techniques, he holds more than 30 patents. Dr. Amplatz is best known for the invention of various devices used for the nonsurgical treatment of many congenital heart defects.


Dr. Scott Augustine
Inducted 2013
Dr. Augustine was one of the first clinicians to identify the need for patient warming for operative procedures. He championed the development of temperature management systems for pre-surgical, surgical, and post-operative care unit uses. These devices and his efforts to educate the medical community on the benefits of maintaining normothermia have changed clinical practice and led to a new standard of care for surgical patients.


Dr. David G. Benditt
Inducted 2013
Dr. Benditt has long taken an interest in the use of cardiac stimulation techniques to improve patient care. His collaboration in the development of body-surface mapping methods for arrhythmia diagnosis resulted in his laboratory being one of the few sites for early development of intra-cardiac ‘non-contact’ mapping. Dr. Benditt is also known for pioneering the addition of tilt-table testing to clinical practice, and advocated for sensor-based pacing systems.


Dr. Perry L. Blackshear, Jr.
Inducted 2012 (Inaugural Class)
Perry Blackshear directed a series of studies on the transport properties and fragility of flowing blood as relates blood handling devices and found blood cells were tougher than thought; this led to the University of Minnesota's design of the first rotary left ventricular assist device. He is also an inventor of the first implantable drug infusion device, a percutaneous blood access device for frequent dialysis and a non-blocking angioplasty balloon.


Dr. Richard DeWall
Inducted 2012 (Inaugural Class)
Richard DeWall, while working in the University of Minnesota, was presented a problem of designing an effective heart-lung machine. To overcome the problem he developed the bubble oxygenator, which was successfully first used at open-heart surgery in 1955. Later in his career he developed a temperature-controlled oxygenator and a capillary type oxygenator for use in these systems.


Dr. Henry Buchwald
Inducted 2012 (Inaugural Class)
Henry Buchwald is a Professor of Surgery at the University of Minnesota with 19 patents. He is honored for the development of the world’s first infusion port, specialty vascular catheters, peritoneovenous shunts, and the world’s first implantable infusion pump. One of the pioneers of metabolic/bariatric surgery, Dr. Buchwald was the first Owen H. and Sarah Davidson Wangensteen Chair in Experimental Surgery.


Dr. Arthur G. Erdman
Inducted 2013
Dr. Erdman established the Medical Devices Center at the University of Minnesota and initiated the annual Design of Medical Devices Conference—now considered one of the premier such conferences internationally. Dr. Erdman has pioneered development of many medical devices including the effort to create LINCAGES, a mechanism software design package that has been used worldwide.


Dr. Michael Garwood
Inducted 2016
Dr. Garwood and his lab have developed novel MRI and MR spectroscopy techniques that better understand tissue function metabolism, and microstructure. His creation of new MRI techniques, like SWIFT (Sweeping Image with Fourier Transformation), have improved the ability for researchers to characterize and diagnose diseases, and monitor the treatment of diseases.


Dr. Ramon B. Gustilo
Inducted 2013
Dr. Gustilo designed and commercialized one of the earliest total knee replacements (The Gustilo knee). He also designed the first hip replacement approved by the FDA for use without bone cement (the BIAS Hip) and one of the most successful current generation of total knee replacements (the Genesis knee). Additionally, Dr. Gustillo has designed numerous other surgical instruments, fracture-fixation devices, and implants.


Dr. Paul A. Iaizzo
Inducted 2013
Dr. Iaizzo is credited for his pioneering work in Visible Heart Lab at the University of Minnesota, which is well recognized for its novel imaging of functional cardiac anatomy and research related to translational systems physiology and medical device testing. He holds numerous patents related to cardiac and patient warming/cooling devices.


Dr. Robert Kaster
Inducted 2012 (Inaugural Class)
Robert Kaster, an Electrical Engineering graduate from the University of Minnesota, became interested in prosthetic heart valves in 1967. Collaborating with Dr. Lillehei, he invented a pivoting disc heart valve which has been used successfully since it was first implanted in 1970. Highly prolific in his work, Dr. Kaster received 21 patents in total throughout his career.


Dr. C. Walton Lillehei
Inducted 2012 (Inaugural Class)
The “Father of Open Heart Surgery,” Dr. Lillehei participated in the world's first successful surgical heart repair. Additionally, he was responsible for the first use of a portable, battery-powered pacemaker. Later, Dr. Lillehei’s work led him to develop and implant the world’s first prosthetic heart valves: The Lillehei-Nakib toroidal disc, the Lillehei-Kaster pivoting disc, and the Kalke-Lillehei rigid bileaflet prosthesis.


Dr. Demetre M. Nicoloff
Inducted 2013
Dr. Nicoloff was the co-inventor of the St. Jude Medical heart valve, which set the standard for artificial heart valves and has been implanted in over 1,500,000 patients worldwide. He designed, and fostered the development of multiple surgical procedures. Dr. Nicoloff was a master of repairing both congenital and acquired cardiac disease, and performed over 10,000 open-heart surgeries on patients ranging in age from one day to over 100 years old.


Dr. Otto Schmitt
Inducted 2012 (Inaugural Class)
Otto Schmitt, a pioneer in biomimetics, founded the University of Minnesota's Biophysics program. Among his many patents he is best known for the invention of the Schmitt Trigger, an electronic circuit converting analog signals to digital. The Schmitt Trigger is used today in virtually every computer and electronic device.


Dr. Gerald Timm
Inducted 2014
Dr. Timm is widely recognized for his contributions to the development of diagnostic instrumentation and implantable therapeutic devices for urinary incontinence and male erectile disorders. As an awardee of 23 patents, author of 83 publications, contributor to four textbooks, and founder or co-founder of five medical device companies, Dr. Timm’s research has led directly to the development of a new industry in urological medical devices.


Dr. Robert T. Tranqillo
Inducted 2013
Dr. Tranquillo has pioneered the concept of “tissue equivalents,” which entails external and cell-mediated alignment and remodeling of artificial extracellular matrix resulting in the formation of functional artificial tissues. He also created three types of tissue equivalents relevant to the cardiovascular system: heart valve, small-diameter blood vessel, and myocardium.


Dr. Kamil Ugurbil
Inducted 2013
Dr. Ugurbil is a pioneer for promoting and advancing the high/ultrahigh field MRI/MRS technology for imaging biological functionality, structure, and cellular metabolism, as well as for understanding underlying physiology, pathology, and morphology. These MRI systems have been widely used in the world for neuroimaging and various biomedical imaging.


Dr. Richard L. Varco
Inducted 2013
Dr. Varco was closely involved in the development and clinical application of cross-circulation for performing open heart surgery. He was first assistant in the first successful direct-vision open-heart operation (September 2, 1952) and in the first open-heart operation using cross-circulation (March 26, 1954). Additionally, Dr. Varco led the first jejunoileal bypass operation in 1953, and is the co-inventor of the first implantable pump for insulin delivery.


Dr. Jerrold Vitek
Inducted 2016
Dr. Vitek is an internationally renowned neurologist who specializes in the surgical treatment of Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, and tremor. His research into Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and the mechanisms behind the development of Parkinson’s disease has led to new applications for DBS as a treatment for other neurological and psychiatric disorders.


Dr. Owen Wangensteen
Inducted 2012 (Inaugural Class)
Owen Wangensteen served as chairman of the University of Minnesota’s Surgery Department from 1930 until 1967. Among his many clinical contributions were advances in the management of intestinal obstruction and the use of the Wangensteen gastric tube.


Dr. Warren Warwick
Inducted 2012 (Inaugural Class)
Warren Warwick is recognized for his expertise in the management and diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. He served as the director of Cystic Fibrosis Center at the University of Minnesota from 1962 to 1999. He is best known for inventing a chest wall oscillation device called the Vest Airway Clearance System.


Dr. Robert F. Wilson
Inducted 2016
Dr. Robert F. Wilson is a founder of the Advanced Preclinical Imaging Center, which serves as a core translational laboratory and training facility within the Lillehei Heart Institute. Dr. Wilson has dedicated his professional life to developing new methods for diagnosing and treating heart disease, and to training new physicians.