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San Antonio Biomedical Group Awards Miami Healthcare Researcher
August 2, 2017

David Holley, Xconomy Texas

The San Antonio bioscience advocacy group BioMed SA is giving its annual innovation award to Leonard Pinchuk, a scientific researcher in Miami who has co-founded or incubated 10 companies.

BioMed SA says it picked Pinchuk because of his work innovating cardiology and ophthalmology products. Pinchuk runs an incubator in Miami called Innovia, which has spun out eight bioscience companies since it was founded in 2002, according to the researcher’s biography. He is also a research professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Miami.

In 1987, Pinchuk co-founded his first company, Corvita, which made vascular grafts that could be used on severely diseased arteries. After going public in 1994, the business sold to Pfizer in 1996 for $85 million, according to news reports and regulatory filings. Pfizer later sold the company to Boston Scientific, Pinchuk’s biography says.

Pinchuk has invented dozens of other medical devices, including types of balloon catheters, a drug-eluting coronary stent owned by Boston Scientific, and implantable biomaterials, according to his biography. At Innovia, companies that he helped incubate have developed intraocular lenses, glaucoma shunts, various types of catheters, and worked in gene therapy.

One spinout of Innovia, Miami-based InnFocus, developed a minimally invasive device that prevents the progression of vision loss from glaucoma, according to a press release from BioMed SA. Founded in 2004, InnFocus was acquired by Osaka, Japan-based Santen Pharmaceutical last year for $225 million upfront, with more payments depending on the success of the products. Pinchuk is currently the chief medical officer of the company.

BioMed SA has given out the award since 2006, when it was presented to Julio Palmaz, a local medical device inventor. Other winners have included researchers from both San Antonio and elsewhere, such as Robert Langer of MIT, Nobel Prize winner W.E. Moerner of Stanford University, and last year’s winner, George Peoples, a San Antonio surgeon and oncology researcher focused on cancer vaccines.

Before last year, the award was named for Palmaz and is now called the Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Bioscience. His company, Palmaz Scientific, filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2016, and most of the business assets were sold later that summer to another company headed by Palmaz’s wife, according to the San Antonio News-Express. (The bankruptcy trustee filed a lawsuit against Palmaz and co-founder Steven Solomon this March, the Express-News reports.) BioMed SA says it did not change the name of the award because of the bankruptcy, and instead renamed it to make it clear the award wasn’t focused solely on medical devices.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com

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