Vascular surgery pioneer Dr. Thomas Fogarty is a man of many interests and talents—surgeon, teacher, entrepreneur, avid fisherman and, even, vintner. But the passion that stirs Fogarty most is his love of inventing. Fogarty, who is best known for his Fogarty® Embolectomy Balloon Catheter—the world's first of its kind—was named the 2000 winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize.
A native of Cincinnati, OH, Fogarty says he's always had a natural inclination to tinker—to look at how he could solve the problems around him. Says Fogarty, "I've achieved the things I've done by asking one question: 'Can it be done better?'" He built and sold his first invention when he was just a boy. Unhappy with the way the gears on his scooter were working, Fogarty tinkered in the parts shop of his local Cushman motor scooter dealer to develop a new centrifugal clutch, which is still widely used today in a variety of small motor applications.
Fogarty holds more than 63 US patents for medical devices, with additional patents pending. His landmark invention, the Fogarty® Embolectomy Balloon Catheter (patented in 1963), revolutionized surgical embolectomy procedures by enabling doctors to remove blood clots in patients' extremities without employing major surgery. This technique transformed a long, highly invasive operation requiring multiple incisions and a lengthy hospital stay into a one-hour procedure done with a single incision under local anesthesia.
Other Fogarty inventions include the Medtronic/AneuRx Endovascular Aortic Stent-Graft, a device that enables minimally-invasive treatment of patients with life threatening aneurysms; Fogarty® Surgical Clips and Clamps, which enable vascular surgeons to temporarily occlude vessels during surgery; and the Hancock tissue Heart Valve, the world's first porcine valve, which Fogarty invented with Warren Hancock.
Fogarty, Stanford University professor of surgery, lives in Portola Valley, CA. He has founded or co-founded over 30 start-up companies that manufacture medical devices, and also co-founded Three Arch Partners, a venture capital firm. Fogarty received his BS from Xavier University (1956) and his MD from the University of Cincinnati (1965), plus an Honorary Doctorate from Xavier University (1987). In 2000 Fogarty used his Lemelson-MIT Prize money to start The Fogarty Medical Foundation to reward clinicians developing innovative medical procedures and devices.
The author of more than 170 scientific and medical articles, Fogarty provides an exceptional role model to the next generation of physician innovators.
Fogarty was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2001.