State and University Officials Celebrate Launch of Biomedical Device Institute

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From left to right: University of Maryland, Baltimore Provost Bruce Jarrell, Fischell Institute Director William Bentley, Clark School Dean Darryll Pines, University of Maryland, College Park Provost Mary Ann Rankin, Robert E. Fischell, Mrs. Susan Fischell, UMB School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, Maryland Deptuy Secretary of Commerce Benjamin Wu. Photo by Thai Nguyen, University of Maryland.

The University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore celebrated the launch of the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices on Thursday, January 3, 2019. With support from both campuses and the state of Maryland, the institute brings together engineers, clinicians, scientists, and students working to design and build biomedical devices that address many of today’s most pressing human health challenges. 

"The Fischell Institute will take cutting-edge research and create new products with the expectation that new businesses will be created potentially from this research and development,” said Maryland Deputy Secretary of Commerce Benjamin Wu, noting that Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News recently named the D.C./Maryland/Virginia region among the top five biopharma clusters in the nation. “These new businesses will create new jobs that will sustain our state’s economy and continue to make us one of the leaders in the nation, and certainly in the region, for job growth."

In 2005, scientist and engineer Robert E. Fischell and his family made a $31 million gift to the University of Maryland to establish both the Fischell Department of Bioengineering and, later, the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices. Fischell is known for inventing lifesaving medical devices and pioneering the modern era of space satellites. He holds more than 200 patents and has served as a leading contributor to the invention of coronary stents, the implantable heart defibrillator, the implantable insulin pump, and a device to prevent migraine headaches.

More than 100 faculty members, researchers, and industry representatives gathered for the celebration in College Park at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark Hall, home of the Fischell Institute’s main office and labs. The afternoon event kicked off with a medical device symposium that highlighted several research initiatives supported in part by the Fischell Institute.

"Since the establishment of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering and the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices, we’ve seen the convergence of health information technology, consumer electronics, and manufacturing industries. This has been reflected in similar changes in the medical device realm," said Mary Ann Rankin, University of Maryland, College Park Senior Vice President and Provost. "This evolution spells new opportunities for human health advancements, but it also presents unique challenges for innovators who have to navigate the changes in technology and the changing regulatory landscape associated with them in order to deliver medical devices to patients who need them." 

"When you bring together driven engineers and driven physicians, problems get solved," said Bruce Jarrell, University of Maryland, Baltimore Executive Vice President and Provost. “Gifts like [the Fischell family’s contribution] create more opportunities for our students, faculty, and researchers to collaborate across the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Maryland, College Park. Additionally, the Fischell Institute enables researchers from both campuses to get involved with the rich environment that the state of Maryland has to offer."

Throughout the day, University of Maryland, College Park and Baltimore faculty highlighted projects ranging from cutting-edge diagnostics tools to the use of drones for emergency delivery of organs needed for transplants.

"It is clear that the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices serves as a conduit for innovation and a melting pot of many disciplines and fields," said Fischell Institute Director William E. Bentley. "We bring together not only thought leaders in medical science and technology, but also in the practice of health care, and we are all inspired by Dr. Fischell’s call to improve quality of life for others."

"So much of the good in the world today – all the conveniences we have, the advancements in health from which we benefit – are in large part the result of contributions made by scientists and engineers," said Fischell. "And, that is why the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices is so important."

The Fischell Institute receives funding support through the University of Maryland’s Mpowering the State strategic partnership. Through this initiative, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Maryland, College Park leverage their strengths and complementary missions to strengthen Maryland’s innovation economy, advance interdisciplinary research, create opportunities for students, and solve important problems for the people of Maryland and the nation.

Photos from the event can be viewed online.

Published January 11, 2019