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Utah's 'Bionic Valley' Produces Another Life-Changing Medical Device

April 20, 2010View for printing

In 1982, when the successful implantation of the Jarvik 7 artificial heart was attracting headlines across the globe, artificial organ and medical device research and development at the University of Utah led Science Digest to nickname Salt Lake City the "Bionic Valley"… "the epicenter of a bioengineering effort that promises to shake up the entire health-care system."

In reality, bioengineering and other life science-related efforts in the "Bionic Valley" have been shaking up the health-care system since the 1950s, says Utah Technology Council Life Science Executive in Residence Michael Feldman. In fact, Utah scientists and researchers have pioneered such devices as the world's first human artificial heart, the first functional prosthetic arm, the first successful heart pump implant, an artificial inner ear, artificial blood vessels, and the first disposable catheter.

One of the Most Sophisticated Devices Developed in Utah Today, the approximately five million patients suffering from various stages of heart disease, including the 3,000 people waiting for heart transplants, can hope to live longer, healthier, more normal lives thanks in part to one of the most sophisticated medical devices ever to be developed in Utah -- the Levacorâ„¢ VAD (ventricular assisted device), which was conceived and developed in Utah by a founding team led by Pratap "PK" Khanwilkar, Ph.D. and is being commercialized by Utah-based WorldHeart Corporation.

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