The Fischell Family
Scientist and engineer Robert Fischell has had two pioneering careers: his current one inventing life-saving medical devices, and a former one helping create the modern era of space satellites so critical to communications, entertainment, business and national security.
Fischell, who holds more than 200 patents, is the father of modern medical stents, lifetime pacemaker batteries and implantable insulin pumps. He is also the father of his closest collaborators: sons Dr. David Fischell, physicist; Dr. Tim Fischell, cardiologist; and Scott Fischell, M.B.A.; who share his passion for changing the world through inventive genius, hard work and philanthropy.
One of the results of their collaborations is a pacemaker-sized implantable computer that provides the earliest possible warning of impending heart attack. Fischell founded Angel Medical Systems Inc., where son David is CEO, to bring this technology into use. Named by his granddaughter Jennifer Fischell, Angel Medical is one of more than half a dozen companies, including Pacesetter Systems, IsoStent, NeuroPace, and NeuraLieve, that Fischell has founded since 1969 to develop his inventions. NeuroPace is developing a new implantable device for ending epileptic seizures. NeuraLieve is developing a magnetic pulse device that stops migraine headaches.
Fischell received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Duke University in 1951, and an M.S. in physics from the University of Maryland in 1953. He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Maryland in 1996. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has received numerous awards and recognitions including induction into the Space Technology Hall of Fame. Fischell serves on the Clark School Board of Visitors, as well as on the University of Maryland, College Park Foundation Board of Trustees. In May 2002, Fischell was inducted into the Clark School Innovation Hall of Fame and received Maryland's 2001 Major F. Riddick, Jr. Entrepreneurship Award.
A Transformational Gift
Dr. Fischell and his family donated $31 million to establish the University of Maryland's bioengineering department and create an institute for biomedical devices. The Clark School announced the gift on December 19, 2005, in a ceremony held in the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building. In recognition of the donation, the Clark School named the department the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, and the institute the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices.
Fischell's sons David, Scott and Tim took part in the ceremony along with their own families. The Fischells saw the gift as their chance to make the world a better place.
"Wealth allows us to do good works and to remove impediments to bettering the human condition," Dr. Fischell said. "Our gift to the Clark School will help engineering students to develop their ideas to improve health care for human beings throughout the world."
The Kickoff of Capstone
Mrs. Susan Fischell is the creator and sponsor of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering annual Senior Capstone Design Awards. In this competition, launched in 2009, the top three senior undergraduate project teams as selected by a panel of judges win monetary prizes donated by Mrs. Fischell and are invited to present their work to the public. The teams may also have the opportunity to have their inventions put on track for development at the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices.
The Fischell Fellowship
In support of Dr. Fischell's vision for the future of bioengineering, the department's Fischell Fellowship in Biomedical Engineering is a unique opportunity for talented and innovative graduate students interested in applied research and product design in the biomedical industry. The Fischell Fellowship features a one-year, $10,000 financial and benefits package. The department has named Fischell Fellows since 2003.