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BioMed SA Honors Bioengineering Innovator

The nonprofit group BioMed SA chose a Florida bioengineer as the recipient of its 2017 Award for Innovation Healthcare and Bioscience. His inventions have impacted millions.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Leonard Pinchuk, Ph.D. But chances are, you are someone you know has benefited from a medical breakthrough tied to one of his more than a hundred patents.

Credit BioMed SA
BioMed SA
Walt Downing, Chair of BioMed SA, Leonard Pinchuk, Ph.D., and Ann Stevens, President of BioMed SA, took part in the Sept. 13, 2017 Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Bioscience program.


Pinchuk traveled to San Antonio from Miami to receive his award from BioMed SA. He says his proudest accomplishment is the development of a special plastic – a new polymer that the body doesn’t recognize as foreign. Plus, it doesn’t break down over time.

"Just a small group of us -- a handful of people -- were able to do it and beat the rest of the world to market with what became one of the largest products in the history of medicine," Pinchuk commented.

That product is a drug-coated stent – a tiny device used to hold open blocked heart arteries.

Credit BioMed SA
BioMed SA
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg congratulated Leonard Pinchuk, Ph.D., at the 2017 Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Bioscience dinner on Sept. 13, 2017.


BioMedSA President Ann Stevens says Pinchuk’s innovations are used worldwide. "He actually invented the material that made the first balloon catheter used for angioplasty."

For the U.S. to continue with bioengineering success, Pinchuk said America should embrace scientists who want to bring their talent to this country. "Perhaps it requires this influx of people who want to get away and do something. It’s actually these go-getters who tend to be the inventors. And we have to let them in," Pinchuk added.

His latest invention is a tiny microshunt – an eye implant to keep glaucoma patients from going blind. 

Wendy Rigby is a San Antonio native who has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. She spent two decades at KENS-TV covering health and medical news. Now, she brings her considerable background, experience and passion to Texas Public Radio.