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Why Curiosity and Persistence are Crucial Characteristics for Medtech Entrepreneurs: Interview with the Legendary Dr. John Simpson, Executive Chairman of Avinger

Dr. John Simpson.  Even if you’re a medical device newbie, you’ve probably heard of him.  He’s credited with inventing and commercializing the first over-the-wire balloon catheter used for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).  This single idea created the field of interventional cardiology as we know it today.

Over the course of his renowned medtech career, Dr. Simpson has founded and successfully exited companies like ACS and DVI (both acquired by Eli Lily), CVIS (acquired by Boston Scientific), Perclose (sold to Abbott), Lumend (acquired by Cordis), Fox Hollow (acquired by ev3 which now part of Medtronic).  It’s borderline exhausting just thinking about all of these companies, let alone starting them!

Plain and simple, Dr. Simpson is a legend in the space and he isn’t done yet.  He currently serves as the Executive Chairman of Avinger, where he and his team are developing a portfolio of unique cardiovascular products aimed at solving the challenging space of peripheral artery disease.

In this interview with Dr. Simpson, we learn about the key lessons he’s learned throughout his historic medtech career and why he’s still fired up about medical device innovation after all these years.

Interview Highlights with Dr. John Simpson

  • How Dr. Simpson’s infamous encounter with Jack Nicklaus (yes, that Jack Nicklaus) led to his firing as a bank teller, which forced him down a new career path.
  • What initially attracted Dr. Simpson to the field of cardiology and how treating vascular disease has been a consistent theme throughout all of the companies he’s started.
  • The reasons why Dr. Simpson decided to pursue Andreas Gruentzig’s balloon catheter technologies and how it led to his own inventions.
  • As a medtech entrepreneur, why knowing your strengths and limitations is key to making a difference in the lives of others.
  • Discover Dr. Simpson’s approach to building a team, and how surrounding himself with people that have a broad group of skill sets has enabled his success throughout the years.
  • The key challenges Dr. Simpson has faced with his new company, Avinger, and the important lessons he’s learned.
  • Simpson reveals his approach to raising capital in the medtech industry, and how persevering through challenges has been crucial for Avinger’s success.
  • The advice Dr. Simpson would give to his 30-year-old self, and how endurance through criticism is what ultimately leads to revolution within the medical field.

Listen to the Interview with Dr. John Simpson

Read the Interview with Dr. John Simpson

Download a copy of the interview transcript right here.

About Dr. John Simpson

Dr. John Simpson received his PhD in Immunology from the University of Texas and his MD from Duke University.  He completed his fellowship in interventional cardiology at Stanford University.  Dr. Simpson is a member of the American College of Physicians and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He has published extensively on a wide variety of subjects and lectured throughout the world. Dr. Simpson has started several companies dedicated to providing patients with the most cutting-edge therapies in a variety of different areas. He invented and commercialized the first over-the-wire balloon catheter used for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).  This single idea created the field of interventional cardiology as we know it today.  He currently serves as Executive Chairman of Avinger.

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