One of the key elements of the Fogarty Innovation incubation experience is surrounding entrepreneurs with seasoned industry veterans. The newest Fogarty Innovation team member, Eric Goldfarb, is no exception, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience working with some of the most innovative medtech startups and incubators. Eric recently joined the organization as engineer-in-residence and looks forward to working closely with the Fogarty companies, as well as leveraging his deep expertise to contribute to the wider ecosystem.
Path toward medicine takes a turn
A son of an innovative surgeon, Eric grew up aspiring to be a physician like his father. Seeing his interest, his dad encouraged him, and Eric began helping his dad prototype devices, like a colostomy plug and laparoscopic suture anchor when he was only 12 years old.
Naturally, Eric expected to become a physician and pursued a BA in biology at Dartmouth College. However, prior to taking his MCATs, he decided to divert from this path and took on roles in environmental management and clinical trial consulting in Boston. This interlude helped him realize that his interest in medicine lay more in being able to create and build products that could help patients rather than practicing medicine as a physician.
Eric applied and was accepted into the mechanical engineering master’s program at Stanford, where he eventually become a teaching assistant in the Product Realization Lab. “That was amazing, a true melting pot of different people and innovative ideas, which really confirmed my passion for engineering,” Eric says.
He was also involved in helping develop and teach the first class in medical device design at the university, which eventually merged into the program now known as the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign. As a teaching assistant for that class, he escorted the students to The Foundry. It was his first exposure to the renowned medtech incubator, which proved to play a pivotal role in his career.
Finding his niche in advancing breakthrough technologies
After graduating from Stanford, Eric reached out to The Foundry and was connected with Ferolyn Powell, who was spearheading Evalve, one of the newly incubated companies. There he led the R&D team that was responsible for developing the MitraClip, a breakthrough technology that repairs leaky heart valves in patients with mitral regurgitation—a debilitating heart condition—without open-heart surgery. He had the opportunity to travel to Venezuela for the company’s first in-human case, which was successful. “To this day it is incredibly rewarding to have been at that first case and to know how well the patient did with the procedure – it is a testament to why we work in this industry,” he says.
After Evalve, Eric wanted the experience of developing a device with a broad commercial customer base. He joined Acclarent as director of R&D and was responsible for helping evolve and scale balloon sinuplasty technology, which disrupted the standard of care for the sinus surgery. Eric next joined ExploraMed as project architect, where he gained an even broader perspective on need finding and product development by helping to co-found a women’s health company, Nuelle.
After the Nuelle product launch, Eric decided to return to the ENT space. He co-founded Tusker Medical, where he was responsible for R&D and operations with the mission to commercialize Tula, a technology that would allow ENTs to insert pediatric ear tubes at the physician’s office under local anesthesia rather than in the OR under a general anesthetic. The project had been started by Acclarent and continued in development after the company was acquired by J&J. Eventually J&J sold off this portion of the business which then became Tusker Medical. After Tusker was sold to Smith+Nephew, Eric stayed on as vice president of R&D, and operations and site leader in Menlo Park.
Joining Fogarty Innovation
Realizing his passion still lies with early-stage startups, Eric was thrilled to join Fogarty Innovation where he can use his extensive expertise working in a variety of clinical areas and technologies. “I’ve known about Fogarty Innovation for a long time and have great respect for the team. I was very attracted by the diversity of initiatives at the organization – from innovation to education to outreach – and the variety of therapies and technologies the companies-in-development are pursuing,” said Eric. “I’m thrilled to be a resource for the community and to continue to develop technologies that improve patient care and outcomes.”
In his spare time, Eric enjoys spending time outdoors skiing, mountain biking, windsurfing, running, hiking, camping and chasing his dog around; and joining his family in all their pursuits.