Inventor Stories

Hear from inventors in our video series highlighting inventors’ journeys and processes, their relationship with Cleveland Clinic Innovations, and their commitment to delivering groundbreaking solutions to patients worldwide.

Inventor Chronicles: From Idea to Invention

In our video series, Inventor Chronicles: From Idea to Invention, our inventors describe their backgrounds, goals, and what led them to where they are today and share advice for new inventors. Not only do the featured inventors share the most rewarding pieces of the innovation process, but they also share their challenges.

In each Inventor Chronicle, a different inventor recounts their unique journey with Cleveland Clinic Innovations – from the initial inspiration to a life-changing invention that positively impacts patients’ lives.

Physician & Patient Combine Forces to Improve Patient Care

Andy Williams and Dr. Eric Yudelivich Blumrosen

Andy Williams, a Cleveland Clinic patient turned inventor, used a simple DIY method to plug his leaking feeding tube – a small nipple from the pet store. After showing his solution to Dr. Eric Yudelivich Blumrosen at his next physical, they worked together to build a prototype and are now launching a small clinical trial with the help of Cleveland Clinic Innovations.

Turning Passion into Innovation

Vijay Krishna, PhD, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute

The first project that Dr. Krishna describes is a transparent antimicrobial coating that kills microbes and degrades them, reducing infections. The coating must be applied to a surface only once, significantly reducing maintenance. The second is a type of sunscreen that prevents sunburn and skin cancer – in a way that other sunscreens do not.

Whenever Dr. Krishna has an idea, the Cleveland Clinic Innovations team guides him through the steps one by one, including assessing the market need and much more. He comments that without their investment in innovation, he does not think the Cleveland Clinic would be able to maintain a competitive edge.

Grit & Grind

Karunakaravel Karuppasamy, MD, Imaging Institute

Dr. Karuppasamy realized that currently available tube-shaped stents are inadequate to treat branching sites in the human body. He and his team set out to create easy-to-use delivery systems to accurately deploy fenestrated stents in the heart, blood vessels, bowel duct, and airways. His platform technology will potentially improve millions of patients' lives.

Leading Innovation

Joseph Iannotti, MD, Chief of Staff, Cleveland Clinic Florida

Dr. Iannotti discusses how Cleveland Clinic Innovations provides the knowledge, skill sets, and resources to help an inventor take an idea and turn it into a reality. In his experience with device development companies, a picture can only get as far as a laboratory setting. The advantage of the Cleveland Clinic is that an idea can go through development, FDA approval, and clinical trials all within the same organization –the most prominent example being the breast cancer vaccine developed in-house that is now undergoing clinical trials.

Narrowing the Gap

Abcon Therapeutics

Abcon Therapeutics, Inc, a Cleveland Clinic spinoff company, tells the story of translating technology by working with a diverse team who master the art of combining science and business together to bring ground-breaking solutions to patients. Cleveland Clinic Innovations brings insight into the pathway from research to a commercializable product.

Solving Problems to Improve Patient Care

Amit Bhatt, MD (Digestive Disease Institute), and John Vargo, MD (Digestive Disease Institute)

Dr. Amit Bhatt and Dr. John Vargo, Director, Enterprise Endoscopy Operations, Director, Endoscopic Research & Innovation at Cleveland Clinic, collaborated with Cleveland Clinic Innovations to develop a wire frame made out of a shape-memory alloy to better move tissue during endoscopy procedures. Their invention, which is commercialized, gives surgeons greater visibility of the dissection plane, allowing for faster, safer, and more efficient dissection of tumors. With greater visibility, tumors can be removed while leaving the integrity of the esophagus and stomach intact so patients can keep their quality of life. This exciting invention has been commercialized allowing for even more patient impact!

Helping Patients Through Innovation

Jose Navia, MD (Heart and Vascular Institute Weston), and Samir Kapadia, MD (Heart, Vascular, & Thoracic Institute)

Dr. Kapadia and Dr. Navia collaborated with Cleveland Clinic Innovations to create Mitria Medical’s Subvalvular Spacer™, a nitinol braid designed to sit at the hinge of the posterior leaflet of the heart with top aspect sitting on the atrial side for anchoring, and the bottom (larger) aspect sitting under the leaflet to provide broad support to the displaced leaflet and associated subvalvular apparatus moving them anteriorly to restore coaptation and reduce mitral regurgitation. Mitral regurgitation is the most common valve disease worldwide. It occurs when leaflets of the mitral valve do not close properly, causing “leakage” from the left ventricle to the left atrium. Mitral regurgitation leads to poor prognosis for patients as the heart is forced to work harder, leading to heart failure and increased mortality.

Thinking Beyond What Is Currently Available

Tom Gildea, MD (Respiratory Institute)

Dr. Gildea, Section Head of Bronchoscopy & Interventional Pulmonary at Cleveland Clinic, invented patient-specific airway stents that provide improved stent life, increased time between interventions, and reduced complications for an improved patient quality of life. Recently acquired by Theken, Vision Air Solutions’ VisionAir 3D Stents are personalized by pulmonologists using innovative cloud software, VisionAir 3D Stent Architect. The patient-specific stents have an average life of years, compared to the average stock stent life of 60 days.

Keeping the Faith in the Inventor Journey

Margot Damaser, PhD (Cleveland Clinic Learner Research Institute)

Dr. Damaser, a Biomedical Engineer at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, invented a new way to help patients with stress urinary incontinence with a wireless bladder monitoring device. Her lab focuses on using tools such as wireless communication and integrated circuit design to improve treatments for conditions that are common among the elderly. This Uro monitor and associated patents and technology were licensed last year to a startup with hopes of FDA approval for commercialization and full clinical use by the end of 2024. 

Finding Joy in Research and Innovation

Carlos Higuera, MD (Orthopaedic and Rheumatologic Institute Weston)

Dr. Higuera invented an anti-bio film to treat infections in knee replacements – a challenging and common issue in his field. This less invasive solution preserves the implants in place with the potential to have great patient impact.

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