The 2021 BioMedSA Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Bioscience will be awarded to Dr. Robert Ward, President of ExThera and a serial inventor and entrepreneur whose contributions to medical innovation have benefitted millions of patients globally. Ward is currently the founder and president of ExThera Medical Corporation where he developed a method of extracting pathogens from blood which has been used on the frontline to battle COVID-19 and sepsis. As a patient’s blood flows through the Seraph® Microbind® Affinity Blood Filter, it passes over tiny beads with receptors that mimic the receptors on human cells that pathogens target when they invade the body. Harmful substances – such as the SARS-COV-2 virus – are quickly captured and adsorbed onto the surface of the beads and are removed from the bloodstream. Ward’s Seraph 100 device has already saved the lives of hundreds of patients with COVID-19 and sepsis, including several in San Antonio, and his company is currently conducting a multi-center, 3-armed observational study (PURIFY-OBS-1). This DoD funded clinical trial will be followed by PURIFY-RCT, a trial to treat “Pathogen Associated Shock” at 15 sites in the USA including five military treatment facilities, some in San Antonio.
Prior to ExThera, Ward led several companies whose innovations have benefitted patients, including as President/CEO and founder of the Polymer Technology Group (PTG), President of the Biomaterials Division at Thoratec and Director of Research at Avco Medical Products. He has invented materials and components that have been used in dozens of devices and prosthetic implants including intra-aortic balloons, artificial hearts, VADs, catheters, orthopedic implants, pacemakers, neurostimulation devices, vascular grafts, continuous glucose sensors and silicone hydrogel contact lenses. Ward is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and received an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Lowell for his life’s work in biomaterials and medical devices. He has over 170 technical publications and more than 60 patents.