Thomas Fogarty on the Process of Innovation and Angioplasty Pioneer Charles Dotter

Thomas Fogarty, MD

Thomas Fogarty, MD

Few people in the field of medical devices are as qualified to talk about innovation as is Dr. Thomas Fogarty, founder, chairman or board member of over 30 business and research companies and holder of over 130 patents.

So, as we are on the verge of a new age in medicine, incorporating SmartPhones, mobile technology and individualized medicine, courtesy of genomics, it is worthwhile remembering what “change” in this field entails — in the words of Dr. Fogarty: “The process of innovation always involves overthrowing the establishment” and that the people who drive this innovation have “always been perceived as crazy…and inappropriate.”

One case in point is the beginning of angioplasty, a word coined by and an idea formulated by one Charles Dotter, a radiologist practicing in Portland, Oregon in the early 60’s. He enjoyed taunting those who derided his idea as “crazy” — mainly the surgical community — and he even made a film in which he contrasts the violence of surgery with the “peacefulness” of a catheter-based “procedure.”

Dr. Fogarty discussed Dotter with me a while back when I was making a documentary on the history and current state of vascular surgery. It turned out that Dr. Fogarty and Dotter actually “worked together”, sort of — click the link below to watch a short clip:

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