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Ford Distinguished Lecture Series


Upcoming Speaker

Thursday, Nov 3, 2016
4:00 PM  |  Tinkham Veale University Center

"Commercializing Medical Innovation: the Challenges and Opportunities"

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Carla Mann Woods
CEO of Mann Healthcare Partners

Speaker bio:
Carla Mann Woods, CEO of Mann Healthcare Partners, has been developing and marketing medical devices for over twenty years. Carla  began her career at Pacesetter Systems where she planned new technology applications and product needs for pacemakers. She joined Advanced Bionics, a neuromodulation company acquired by Boston Scientific. During her tenure at Advanced Bionics/Boston Scientific, she led the business development, product development, and marketing for products including the Precision Spinal Cord Stimulator, the BION® microstimulator, implantable infusion pumps and cochlear implants. For these products she holds over 40 U.S. patents and was the shareholder representative in the Boston Scientific acquisition. In 2007, she became the Vice President of Program Development and Strategic Planning for the Alfred Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering.  She is on the board of directors for the Alfred Mann Institute, the board of councilors for the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC, and the Advisory Board to the Center for Global Innovation at the USC Marshall School of Business.  Carla is also president of Fight to Live, an effort driving regulatory reform so that Americans will benefit from the progress emerging in the fight against terminal diseases.

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About the Ford Lecture Series

Allen and Constance Ford established the Ford Visiting Professor Program at Case Western Reserve University to enhance and highlight the programming of the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME). The department is regularly ranked among the nation’s top biomedical engineering programs by U.S. News and World Report.

The Ford Visiting Professor Program at Case Western Reserve has enabled BME to bring to campus—to our students, faculty and university community—scientists and business leaders on the cutting edge of biomedical engineering and related sciences.

Allen Ford has been a member of Case Western Reserve University’s Board of Trustees since 1976, serving as vice chair from 1985 to 1987 and chair from 1987 to 1992. He earned an MS in engineering administration from Case Institute of Technology in 1964, and received the University Medal, Case Western Reserve’s highest honor, in 1994. His late wife, Constance Ford, received an MA degree from Western Reserve University in 1953.


previous speakers

October 26, 2015
"Forward Thinking:
How Biomedical Engineering Can Positively Impact Health and Health Care

A panel of experts from the Department of Biomedical Engineering on how translational research is transforming the future of human health.

Robert Kirsch, Chair of Biomedical Engineering
Translational Research at Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering

Anant Madabhushi, Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Big Data and Precision Medicine

Mark Griswold, Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering
Medical Imaging and Visualization

Nicole Steinmetz, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Nanomedicine and Immunotherapy

Cameron McIntyre, Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Presentations were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Stephen Fening, director of the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership.

November 13, 2014

The Engineering of Invention and the Evolving Health Care Environment:
Tying Innovation to Economic Value

Michael J. Coyle


Executive Vice President and Group President
Cardiac and Vascular Group

Coyle was named executive vice president and group president in December 2009. In this role, he oversees three Medtronic businesses, providing strategic direction and ensuring cross-functional synergies including integrated growth plans and alignment.

October 13, 2013

“Optical Deconstruction of Fully Assembled Biological Systems”

Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD

D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering
and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Deisseroth is director of undergraduate education in bioengineering at Stanford and a practicing psychiatrist. He has pioneered and developed new optical technologies that give researchers unprecedented access to fully intact biological systems, including optogenetics, a technology for controlling specific cells with light inside behaving animals, and CLARITY, a chemical engineering technology for visualizing and labeling biological tissues without disassembly. He has used these methods to study anxiety, depression and other conditions and diseases.

View a video of this event

March 6, 2013

“The Human Connectome Project: Progress and Prospects”

David Van Essen, PhD

Alumni Endowed Professor

Anatomy and Neurobiology

Neurosciences Program

Washington University

Van Essen is one of the principal investigators of the Human Connectome Project, a $30 million NIH grant to map brain circuitry in a large population of healthy adults using cutting-edge neuroimaging methods, giving the scientific community an unprecedented look at connectivity in the living brain.

He has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuroscience, founding chair of the OHBM, and president of the Society for Neuroscience. He is also a fellow of the AAAS and has received the Raven Lifetime Achievement Award from the St. Louis Academy of Sciences and the Krieg Cortical Discoverer Award from the Cajal Club.

September 27, 2012

"Revolutionizing the Field of Medicine through Advances in Nanotechnology"

Chad Mirkin, PhD

Professor of Chemistry,

International Institute for Nanotechnology

Northwestern University

Dr. Mirkin’s research focus is on developing methods for controlling the architecture of molecules and materials on the 1 – 100 nm length scale, and utilizing such structures to develop novel analytical tools that can be applied in the areas of chemical and biological sensing, gene regulation, lithography, catalysis, optics, and energy generation, storage, and conversion. Mirkin has pioneered the use of biomolecules as synthons in materials science and the development of many nanoparticle-based extra- and intracellular biodiagnostic and gene regulation tools.

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February 18, 2012

“Be. Feel. Live. A New Perspective on our Role in Human Health”

Nicholas Valeriani, MBA

Company Group Chairman

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics

Part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies

In his role as chief executive of the collective West Health effort, Nicholas J. Valeriani brings valuable expertise in engineering, operations, medical devices and diagnostics, entrepreneurship and non-profit leadership that make him uniquely qualified to advance the mission to lower health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator. All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time. Valeriani is the CEO of the Institute, the flagship organization of West Health, and the chair of the Executive Committee, the coordinated leadership team of West Health.

View a video of this event

November 2, 2011

“Magnetic Resonance Microscopy”

G. Allan Johnson, PhD

Director, Center for In Vivo Microscopy

Charles E. Putnam University Professor

Duke University

Dr. Johnson received a PhD in Physics from Duke University in 1974 in electron spin resonance under Walter Gordy and has been in the Department of Radiology since 1974, where he is currently Director of Diagnostic Physics. He holds joint appointments in Radiology, Physics, and Biomedical Engineering as the Charles E. Putman University Professor, and he is co-author of 300+ peer-reviewed papers.

April 11, 2011

“Programming Cells In Situ with Polymers”

David Mooney, PhD

Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering

Harvard University

The basic question that drives Mooney's research is: how do mammalian cells receive information from the materials in their environment. By utilizing the tools of cell and molecular biology, he studies the mechanisms by which chemical (for example, specific cell adhesion molecules) or mechanical signals (for example, cyclic strain) are sensed by cells and alter their proliferation and specialization to either promote tissue growth or destruction.

October 25, 2010

“Making Drugs out of siRNAs”

Muthiah Manoharan

Senior vice president of Drug Discovery

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

Distinguished nucleic acid chemist and inventor Muthiah Manoharan spoke about using the powerful biological process of RNA interference to make and deliver treatments for disease when he gave the Ford Distinguished Lecture at Case Western Reserve University.

April 22, 2010
“The Practical Uses of Immortality:
The Confluence of Pluripotency and Tissue Engineering”

Michael West, PhD

CEO, BioTime Inc. and Embryome Inc

He received his Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in 1989 concentrating on the biology of cellular aging. He has focused his academic and business career on the application of developmental biology to the age-related degenerative disease.

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October 22, 2009

Bill Hawkins

CEO, Medtronic

Bill Hawkins was named President and CEO of Immucor in October 2011. Most recently, Bill was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medtronic, Inc. He became Chief Executive Officer of Medtronic, Inc. in August 2007 and Chairman of the Board in August 2008. Mr. Hawkins was named President and Chief Operating Officer in May 2004 after joining Medtronic as Senior Vice President and President of Medtronic’s Vascular business in January 2002. Mr. Hawkins joined Medtronic from Novoste Corp., where he had been President and Chief Executive Officer since 1998.

March 31, 2009
“Hierarchical Temporal Memory:
How a Theory of the Neocortex May Lead to Truly Intelligent Machines”

Jeff Hawkins

Co-founder of Palm and Handspring

Author, On Intelligence

Jeff is an engineer, serial entrepreneur, scientist, inventor and author. His life-long interest in neuroscience and theories of the neocortex has driven his passion for building a technology based on neocortical theory. Previously, he founded two mobile computing companies, Palm and Handspring, and is the architect of many computing products such as the PalmPilot and Treo smartphone. In 2002, he founded the Redwood Neuroscience Institute, a scientific institute focused on understanding how the neocortex processes information. The institute is currently located at U.C. Berkeley. In 2004 Jeff wrote the book, On Intelligence, which outlines Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM) and describes progress on understanding the neocortex.

View a video of this event

November 4, 2008
“A revolution in neuro-therapeutics:
Brain plasticity-based strategies targeting neurological and psychiatric illness”

Michael Merzenich, PhD

Professor of the School of Medicine

Otolaryngology Department

University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Merzenich’s research interests have included the functional organization of the somatosensory and auditory nervous systems; the neurological bases of — and rules governing — learning-induced cortical plasticity; and the neurological origins of and remediation of developmental and acquired impairments in language, reading, memory, attention, cognitive control, and movement.

View a video of this event

November 1, 2007
“The Genomic Revolution and the Future of Medicine and Health”

Rick Klausner, MD

Senior Vice President & Chief Medical Officer


Richard (Rick) Klausner joined Illumina as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer in September 2013. Klausner is responsible for Illumina’s strategies for advancing genomics into clinical medicine and public health. He is also part of Illumina’s executive management team, which is responsible for directing all aspects of company strategy, planning, and operations.

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April 5, 2007

“Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering: Progress and Future Perspectives”

Robert Langer, ScD

David H. Koch Institute Professor

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Robert S. Langer is the David H. Koch Institute Professor (there are 11 Institute Professors at MIT; being an Institute Professor is the highest honor that can be awarded to a faculty member).  Dr. Langer has written over 1,300 articles.  He also has over 1,080 patents worldwide.  Dr. Langer’s patents have been licensed or sublicensed to over 300 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies.  He is the most cited engineer in history (h-index 211).

November 6, 2006

Thomas J. Meade, PhD

Professor, Department of Chemistry

Northwestern University

Professor Meade’s research focuses on bioinorganic coordination chemistry and its application in research that include biological molecular imaging, electron transfer processes and the development of electronic biosensors for the detection of DNA and proteins.  He has received numerous awards and founded three biotech companies, Clinical Micro Sensors, PreDx and Ohmx which are developing hand-held devices for protein and DNA detection and bioactivated MR contrast agents for in vivo imaging of cancer.

April 12, 2006

Caroline A. Kovac, PhD

General Manager, Healthcare and Lifesciences

Caroline Kovac oversees the development of cutting-edge information technology at IBM for the life sciences market, which includes the biotechnology, genomic, e-health, pharmaceutical, and agri-science industries. She is responsible for overall strategy for Life Sciences, developing partnerships with other enterprises and directing IBM investments in this fast-growing market.

October 14, 2005

Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen is an inventor, an entrepreneur, and a tireless advocate for science and technology. His roles as inventor and advocate are intertwined—his own passion for technology and its practical uses has driven his personal determination to spread the word about technology's virtues and by so doing to change the culture of the United States. Kamen is best known for inventing the product that eventually became known as the Segway.

March 15, 2005

Martha Gray, PhD

J. W. Kieckhefer Professor of Medical and Electrical Engineering, HST, EECS
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Gray's research is geared towards understanding and, ultimately preventing or slowing the cartilage degeneration that affects at least 6 out of 10 people over age 45. Over the last decade, the efforts of Professor Gray and her colleagues have been primarily directed at establishing MRI tools that provide a picture of the biochemical and functional properties of the tissue.