President, DEKA Research & Development Corp., Founder, FIRST
Dean Kamen is an inventor, an entrepreneur, and a tireless advocate for science and technology. His roles as inventor and advocate are intertwined. His passion for technology and its practical uses has driven his personal determination to spread the word about technology’s virtues and by so doing, to change the culture of the United States.
As an inventor, Kamen holds more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents, many of them for innovative medical devices that have expanded the frontiers of health care worldwide. While still a college undergraduate, he invented the first wearable infusion pump, which rapidly gained acceptance from such diverse medical specialties as chemotherapy, neonatology, and endocrinology. In 1976 he founded his first medical device company, AutoSyringe, to manufacture and market the pumps. At age 30, he sold that company to Baxter International. By then, he had added a number of infusion devices, including the first wearable insulin pump for diabetics.
Following the sale of AutoSyringe, he founded DEKA Research & Development to develop internally generated inventions, as well as to provide research and development for major corporate clients. Kamen led DEKA’s development of the HomeChoice peritoneal dialysis system for Baxter International, allowing patients to be dialyzed in the privacy and comfort of home. The product quickly became the worldwide market leader. Kamen also led the development of technology to improve slide preparation for the CYTYC (now Hologic) ThinPrep Pap Test. Kamen-led DEKA teams have developed critical components of the UVAR XTS System, an extracorporeal photophereisis device marketed by Therakos, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, for treatment of T-Cell lymphoma. An advanced prosthetic arm in development for DARPA should advance the quality of life for returning injured soldiers. Other notable developments include the Hydroflex surgical irrigation pump for C.R. Bard, the Crown stent—an improvement to the original Palmaz-Schatz stent—for Johnson & Johnson, the iBO mobility device, and the Segway Human Transporter.
Kamen has received many awards for his efforts. In 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Technology in recognition for inventions that have advanced medical care worldwide and for innovative and imaginative leadership in awakening America to the excitement of science and technology. Kamen was also awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize in 2002 and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May 2005.
In addition to DEKA, one of Kamen’s proudest accomplishments is founding FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation to understand, use, and enjoy science and technology.