Thomas J. Fogarty Innovation Prize Unveiled at Fogarty 90th Celebration 

by | May 2, 2024 | Fogarty Innovation

How do you pay tribute to a man whose inventions revolutionized vascular surgery and launched an era of minimally invasive device innovation that has helped millions of people? Especially if it’s the same man who has been known to say that “awards are like hemorrhoids; everyone who lives long enough eventually gets one?”

Fogarty CEO Andrew Cleeland and Mike Mussallem, co-founder of the Linda and Mike Mussallem Foundation and non-executive Chairman of the Board for Edwards Lifesciences, found a way, with the creation of an award designed to be as iconic and exceptional as the man it honors. 

The Thomas J. Fogarty MD Innovation Prize 

The Thomas J. Fogarty MD Innovation Prize will honor an individual who has exhibited, like Fogarty himself, tremendous insight, creativity, perseverance, and courage in developing a technology or therapy that has demonstrated a meaningful clinical impact. It will consist of a custom cast-bronze medallion and an unrestricted cash prize of $100,000. 

To establish the award, Mussallem made a generous gift of $1M, and asked Fogarty Innovation to make the program self-sustaining by raising a matching amount. 

“I share Tom’s deep commitment to fostering medtech innovation, so supporting the Fogarty Innovation prize felt like a natural fit,” said Mussallem. “Tom’s innate curiosity and contrarian thinking were key to his success in making big things happen, and he has always loved coaching and encouraging others.”

Giving Back

Fogarty’s focus on giving back was not only evidenced through his informal mentoring and the establishment of Fogarty Innovation. When he was honored with the Lemelson-MIT Award in 2000, he redirected his $500k prize toward establishing an accolade honoring clinicians developing innovative medical procedures and devices.  “There is no better way to honor and perpetuate his legacy as a trailblazer than to support the next generation of change makers through this award,” said Mussallem.

Recognizing Innovation and Adoption

The new award was announced at Fogarty’s 90th birthday celebration, an event at Fogarty Innovation that drew luminaries from across the medtech ecosystem. “We are all inspired by Tom Fogarty’s mission of “finding a better way,” said Cleeland. “This award recognizes that mindset as a starting point, but also emphasizes the multi-stakeholder perspective and grit required to drive a new therapy to patients.” 

A cardiovascular surgeon himself, Fogarty’s inventions were designed to achieve similar or better outcomes for patients while making it easier for physicians to do procedures. “He recognized how hard it is to change entrenched standards and procedures in medical care,” said Cleeland. “By requiring that the technology has achieved broad acceptance and use, the award reinforces Tom’s uncompromising standard that ‘an idea by itself has no importance whatsoever. It’s the implementation of that idea and its acceptance by others that brings true benefits to our patients.’”

Award Criteria

Other award criteria include:

  • The annual award can be given to a single individual or a team of up to three, but not to a company.
  • It recognizes a singular, clinically impactful technology, or therapy – is not a lifetime achievement award.
  • An independent selection committee of accomplished individuals from across the medtech innovation ecosystem will be tasked with selecting the most qualified nominee. 
  • The first award of the Prize will take place in October 2025. Nominations will open in November 2024. 
  • Additional information will be forthcoming as we build the infrastructure for this signature prize.    

“The Thomas J. Fogarty MD Innovation Prize will be the preeminent award in the medtech industry,” said Cleeland. “It is our opportunity to honor, in perpetuity, the magnitude of Tom’s contributions by recognizing transformational medical devices and their impact on human health.”

Fogarty Innovation is actively fundraising to match Mussallem’s generous gift. If you’d like to get involved, please reach out to Allie Gregorian, Fogarty Chief Alliance Officer at allie@fogartyinnovation.org.

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