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Winner of BioMed SA's Top Award Is Described as a 'Serial Innovator'
August 8, 2017

By Jim Forsyth
WOAI News Radio 1200

A man who has been dubbed a 'serial innovator,' has been named as the winner of the 2017 BioMed SA Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Bioscience, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Dr. Leonard Pinchuk has invented the world's first commercially successful and most widely used angioplasty balloon catheter, as well as a major drug-eluting coronary stent and a device that helps prevent the progression of glaucoma in the eye, among his 120 medical and health care patents.
In an interview, Dr. Pinchuk says the future of medical research looks bright, but people need to realize that medical research is a generational endeavor, and 'eureka' moments, where a researcher in a flash comes up with a cure for a disease are rare.

"This difficult part is the amount of time it takes to gather the data, to, for example, apply to the FDA and other regulatory agencies," he told News Radio 1200 WOAI on Monday from Park City, Utah.

Dr. Pinchuk doesn't fault the process, but he says Americans have to understand that major developments against dreaded diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s come slowly, but no big announcement today doesn't mean progress is not being made.

He says to realize, for example, how successful cancer research has been in recent years, you should look, ironically, at the waiting room in a cancer treatment office.

"Twenty years ago, they would have fifty people in the waiting room," he said.  "Now they have 250 to 300 people waiting.  That is due to incremental improvements that are allowing people to live longer."
He says the same is true with heart disease and diabetes.  

In fact, he says preventative treatments and behavioral changes, not necessarily medical advances themselves, are making heart attacks more and more survivable, and are decreasing the fear that Americans have over suffering a heart attack, because survival rates have increased so much.

Dr. Pinchuk says from super computers instantly analyzing reams of data to come up with the perfect treatment for an individual, to targeted therapies which have been used successfully here at San Antonio's START Center for Cancer Care, there are a number of projects in the works which will improve our lives in the years and decades ahead.

"Genetic engineering, for example," he said.  "Understand which genes are effective.  We are getting that act together, to better understand what is effective."

Dr. Pinchuk points out that eighty years ago, Americans feared diseases like smallpox, polio, and yellow fever.  He says the day will come when our children and grandchildren feel about cancer and Alzheimer's Disease the way we feel today about those conditions, simply relicts from the medical past. Dr. Pinchuk will receive the top honor from BioMed SA at a banquet in San Antonio next month.

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