Talks & Lectures
6 Dec 2017
Babbio 122

SES Dean's Lecture Series: Engineering to Benefit Humanity

Sponsored by Schaefer School of Engineering and Science

Dr. Robert Fischell with Barak Obama

The inaugural SES Dean's Lecture Series opens with physicist and inventor Robert Fischell.

Fischell will be speaking on “Engineering For Humanity, Fun and Profit," describing the creation, development and clinical results from three different medical devices. The first of these devices is a small, somewhat curved medical device that is designed for the treatment of epileptic seizures. This metal enclosed medical device is placed into a region of the cranial bone on the head where a portion of that bone has been removed to receive this instrument. Attached to the device is a group of 6 electrodes that are placed into the brain in the region where epileptic seizures originate. When the device senses that a seizure is about to begin, the electrodes send an electrical current through those brain cells to prevent the seizure from happening. The second device described in the lecture is implanted under the patient’s skin in the upper left chest with electrodes placed into the heart. When a heart attack is detected, the device vibrates like a cell phone to warn the patient to get to an emergency room as quickly as possible for the medical personnel there to treat this condition. The third device described in the lecture is able to create intense magnetic pulsations onto the head for the prevention and treatment of migraine headaches. This migraine treatment system has already been used successfully in more than 1,000 patients.

After the talk, there will be a reception from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Babbio Atrium. 

Dr. Robert E. Fischell received his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Duke University in 1951. He received his Master of Science and honorary Doctor of Science degrees from the University of Maryland. He also received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology in 2016. Dr. Fischell was employed at the Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory for 32 years where he actively developed more than 50 spacecraft for the United States Navy and for NASA. Starting in 1969, Dr. Fischell began the formation of 15 private companies that licensed his patents on medical devices including heart pacemakers, defibrillators, coronary stents, and devices to treat neurologic pain, epilepsy and migraine headaches. Dr. Fischell is a prolific inventor with over 200 issued U.S. and foreign patents that have been the basis for medical devices that have been implanted in more than 20 million patients on a worldwide basis. Dr. Fischell’s honors include Inventor of the Year for the USA in 1984, election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1996, and several medals for distinguished accomplishments in science, engineering and innovation.

In 2004 Dr. Fischell received Discover magazine's annual Technology for Humanity award. In 2005 he received TED's award and $100,000 prize for contributions to medical technology; he also provided a philanthropic gift of $30,000,000 to create and fund the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland. In June 2007 he received the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Prize for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson Society for Scholars. In May 2008 he received the honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters from the Johns Hopkins University in recognition of his many contributions in the field of medicine. In the first half of the year 2016 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Technical Council of Maryland, election as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology. On May 17, 2016 at the White House, he received from President Obama the National Medal for Technology and Innovation, the highest recognition in the USA for his contributions toward the betterment of mankind. On April 25, 2017 he received the Blumenthal prize from the Johns Hopkins University for his many contributions to the field of biomedical engineering. On April 29, 2017 he received the Dean’s Gold Medal from the University of Maryland School of Medicine for his many contributions in the field of medicine. On June 13, 2017 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City, Dr. Fischell received the Medical Design Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award from the Medical Device and Diagnostic Industries Magazine.

Back to Events