The Oregon Bioscience Association on Tuesday night honored one of Oregon’s best known inventors, cardiovascular surgeon Albert Starr, M.D., with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award and listened to him talk about his ‘cherry blossom moment.’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 18, 2013
CONTACT: Dennis McNannay, executive director, Oregon Bio, 503.548.4432
Dianne Danowski Smith, board member, Oregon Bio, 503.201.7019
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(Portland, Ore.) — Well known inventor, Dr. Albert Starr, signed over this first patent, for the first model of an artificial heart valve, to his partner, James Edwards, of Edwards Laboratories. It’s part of the legacy story of Dr. Starr’s world-changing invention; a story that includes his personal ‘cherry blossom moment.’

That moment entailed a stroll through the cherry blossom trees some 50 years ago at the then-University of Oregon Medical School (now OHSU). During this stroll, the final solution came to him that solved the last, most pressing problem with the artificial valve design and knew he had the last problem solved.

The fruit of his labor was the first ever artificial heart valve. The story of its creation is the stuff of legends. “We opened that space,” says Dr. Starr of his partnership with Edwards. James Edwards at that time was twenty-years post of his own invention, an innovative hydraulic fuel pump that kept World War II pilots in the higher altitude air because the pump ensured their fuel didn’t freeze in complicated overseas flying missions.

“Dr. Starr’s legacy in innovation is a model story because he brought a studied approach, built a key team of researchers, partnered with another inventor who had the financial resources and materials know-how, and persevered until they arrived at the successful design that worked without clotting or tissue rejection,” said Oregon Bio’s Executive Director Dennis McNannay.

The dinner event also featured remarks from William Brody, M.D., president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. This event not only celebrateed Dr. Starr’s past achievement, but also provided an exciting look into the future through the eyes of one of Oregon’s greatest inventors.

Dr. Starr was recruited to the University of Oregon Medical School in 1957 to head its new heart surgery program, after earning his medical degree at Columbia University, completing an internship at Johns Hopkins and surgical training in New York City. For the 56 years since, he has conducted front-line clinical research and performed thousands of cardiovascular surgeries in Oregon, and now serves as Executive Chairman of the Knight Cardiovascular Institute and as Special Adviser to the Dean of Medicine and the President at OHSU.

Tuesday’s awards dinner was part of Oregon Bioscience Association’s 2013 annual conference, which is themed ‘The Economics of Life Sciences.’ The conference launched Monday and continues through Wednesday, Sept. 18 (https://www.oregonbio.org/events/annual-conference-2013). Keynote and featured speakers have include nationally renowned thought leaders in the innovation economy, product and therapeutic development, industry funding, scientific breakthrough research and health reform from companies and organizations such as The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Galena Biopharma, Genentech, GNS Healthcare, Cambia Health Solutions, Zoomcare Inc. and Neolac.

“We have another year of sellout crowds, as again this year our event has attracted the broadest cross-section of regional, national and international investors and strategic partners who are interested in learning more about the opportunities available in Oregon,” said Oregon Bioscience Association’s Executive Director, Dennis McNannay. “Attendees yesterday met one-on-one with prospective investment partnering companies and learned about the deep pool of research expertise Oregon offers through its bioscience-based signature research institute, OTRADI, other signature research centers, and university-based programs.”

Oregon Bio thanks its conference Platinum sponsors OTRADI and ONAMI; Silver sponsors Acumed, Galena Biopharma, HDR Architecture, Inc., Medmarc, MolecularMD, Mobiten, ShelLab of Sheldon Manufacturing, The Hartford, Portland Business Journal and Eli Lilly; and Track sponsors Biotechnology Industry Organization, Biotronik/Micro Systems Engineering, Genentech and Welch Allyn.