Expert Alert

Medical device innovation at the University of Minnesota

Image of Dr. Paul Iaizzo speaking in the Visible Heart Laboratory.
Paul Iaizzo, Ph.D., principal investigator with the Visible Heart Laboratory, explains to former Vice President for Research Brian Herman how the pig heart beats. Meanwhile, former doctoral student Alex Mattson uses an ultrasound device to produce a sonogram image of the heart. Credit: Dan Gilchrist.

Minnesota has long been known as one of the national and global leaders in the medical device industry. In fact, Minnesota's Medical Alley is the number one health technology cluster in the world, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Improvement, and Minnesota innovators hold the most medical device patents per capita in the United States. The University of Minnesota—which alone spends over $1 billion annually on research and development—plays a central role in both innovation and training in the medical health technology field.

Paul Iaizzo, a professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School, can speak to the landscape of medical device innovation and how the U of M is moving the industry forward.

Paul Iaizzo, Ph.D.

The Institute for Engineering in Medicine's Innovation Week is April 11-15, 2022 at the University of Minnesota. and will highlight advances and new directions in medical engineering. The event will highlight advances and new directions in cutting edge research from a variety of specialties, including the work I do at the Visible Heart Laboratory that is transforming preclinical trials in the medical device industry.

Minnesota has the highest density of medical device companies anywhere in the world, and approximately 70 percent of the state’s health professionals have had some level of training at the University of Minnesota. The Visible Heart Laboratory, which I helped to establish in 1997, has trained hundreds of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and medical students entering the medical device industry.

The research being done at the Visible Heart Laboratory is needed to move medical device innovation forward prior to clinical trials. The lab performs a variety of preclinical research on medical devices, the majority of which are cardiovascular. Along with actively training the next generation of medical device innovators, our laboratory focuses on outreach and STEM education for younger students.

During IEM Innovation Week on Monday, April 11, 2022, Dr. William Durfee and I will be leading an all-day Innovation Workshop, sharing the essentials of being a medical technology innovator and key opinion leader.”

Paul Iaizzo is a professor in the Medical School at the University of Minnesota. He also serves in the graduate faculties for Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience, Integrative Biology & Physiology, Biological Science, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and Mechanical Engineering. He is the director of the Malignant Hyperthermia Diagnostic Center and Medtronic Professor of Visible Heart Research. Additionally, he is the Associate Director and Medtronic Chair of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine, also at the University of Minnesota. 

In addition to the Innovation Workshop led by Dr. Iaizzo and Dr. Durfee, the Visible Heart Laboratory will be hosting the Heart to Learn educational exhibit on Tuesday, April 12 and Wednesday, April 13. This hands-on exhibit will include plastinized and 3D printed human hearts as well as a VR experience. To learn more, visit the IEM Innovation Week homepage.

Paul Iaizzo
Professor in the U of M Medical School
[email protected]


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The Office of Academic Clinical Affairs is reimagining health by driving innovation and discovery through collaborations across the University of Minnesota, advancing interprofessional care and training, and being a strong partner to the state, industry and community.

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