Berkeley, California - Emergence Venture Partners said 16 July that its chairman Bob Ward has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
The award recognises his pioneering role in inventing and developing novel applications of various biomaterials, many of them polyurethane-based, for their use in critically important medical devices.
Ward has nearly 40 years' experience of developing novel biomedical polymers. His inventions have become the enabling technology for many medical devices being marketed today.
Ward previously gained the "2006 Excellence in Surface Science Award," an acknowledgement of his lifetime of contributions to the field of surface sciences in the development of biomedical polyurethane for cardiovascular and other applications; a career that spans the early days of the intraaortic balloon pumps and ventricular assist devices to modern- day spinal implants.
His significant contributions in medical devices are exemplified by the introduction of Biospan, Bionate, and Elasthane as high-quality, well-defined replacement biomaterials.
These came at a crucial time when legal pressures led to the complete absence of these materials from the medtech marketplace, said a press statement.
His contributions also include silicone-urethane copolymers and the development of the highly novel Surface Modifying End Group technology, allowing device manufacturers to specify particular surface interfacial chemistries while retaining the desirable bulk properties of the base polymer.
"When Bob co-founded his previous company, the Polymer Technology Group (PTG), in 1989, there was a medical device crisis looming," said George Pitarra, president and managing director, Emergence Venture Partners. Emergence is a venture firm focused on the use of novelbiomedical polymer technology in the development of medical devices andprosthetic implants.
"Suppliers of materials used to make medical devices - 'biomaterials' - were alarmed by massive class action lawsuits," primarily related to temporomandibular (TMJ) and breast implants, led material suppliers to pull out of the medical markets, Pitarra continued.
"This left medical device manufacturers high and dry: Where would they get the specialised biomaterials necessary to make their artificial hearts, pacemakers and intra-aortic balloons? This huge void was filled by the Polymer Technology Group, led by Bob Ward," Pitarra said.