Marvin J. Slepian, MD, to be honored with the AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2017 AZBio Awards

The Arizona Bioindustry Association will honor Marvin J. Slepian, MD, of the University of Arizona with the AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2017 AZBio Awards. Arizona life science and business leaders, as well as guests from across the country, will be on hand to applaud Dr. Slepian for a body of work that has made life better for people at home and around the world.

Marvin J. Slepian, M.D.

The maxim, “If you need to get something done, ask a busy person,” often has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Dr. Slepian is someone Franklin would have recognized as a kindred spirit.   

Dr. Slepian is a cardiologist, inventor, entrepreneur, educator, innovator and more. At the UA, he serves as professor of medicine, professor and associate department head of biomedical engineering, professor of material sciences and engineering, professor of medical imaging, McGuire Scholar in the UA Eller College of Management and member of the UA Sarver Heart Center. Dr. Slepian also is the founder and director of the newly created Arizona Center for Accelerated Biomedical Innovation (ACABI) – a “creativity engine” focused on novel solution development for unmet medical needs.

Building on a solid foundation

Dr. Slepian attended Princeton (AB biochemical sciences and science in human affairs 1977) and received his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (1981 AOA). He completed his residency in internal medicine at New York University–Bellevue Hospital in New York, where he served as chief resident in medicine; his clinical and research fellowships in cardiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore; and his clinical and research fellowships in interventional cardiology and a research fellowship in artificial organs at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. In addition, Dr. Slepian received post-doctoral training in chemical engineering and polymer chemistry at Washington University and MIT.

From idea to patient

With a career that spans the spectrum from basic and translational research to technology transfer, Dr. Slepian exemplifies how keen clinical observation coupled with solid basic science knowledge and exploration in the lab can successfully transition to commercial products that make life better for patients. At the basic level, his laboratory has focused on three main areas: 1. the role of cell-matrix interactions in vascular disease, 2. the role of physical forces in modulating vascular cell and platelet behavior and 3. the utility of polymeric biomaterials to modulate cell-matrix interactions, as well as serve as novel therapeutic structural, barrier or drug-delivery materials. On the translational level, his lab has developed many novel therapeutic solutions based on polymeric biomaterials that have found their way into clinical use today, including drug-eluting stent technologies, stent coatings, “polymer paving,” surgical anti-adhesive barriers, synthetic tissue and vascular sealants, myocardial revascularization and cell-delivery methods, and cardiovascular prosthetic devices, including the total artificial heart.

Dr. Slepian has founded or co-founded several medical device companies, including Focal (which went public in 1997 and was acquired by Genzyme Biosurgery in 2001), EndoTex Interventional Systems Inc. (acquired by Boston Scientific in 2007), Angiotrax, Hansen Medical (which went public in 2006 and was acquired by Auris Surgical Robotics in 2016), Arsenal Medical and its spinout company 480 BioMedical, and MC10, which takes rigid high-performance electronics and reshapes them into human compatible form factors that stretch, bend and twist to move with the body. He has been involved with bringing many new devices through the FDA regulatory process into clinical use, including most notably the total artificial heart. Dr. Slepian was the founding president of SynCardia Systems, Inc., and served in multiple roles, including chief scientific officer, president and chairman for more than a decade. Today, the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart is the only artificial heart commercially available in the United States, European Union and Canada for use as a bridge-to-donor heart transplantation.

Dr. Slepian has received multiple awards for his academic and translational research and innovation activities, including election as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), and has been a frequent visiting professor and lecturer in medicine (cardiology), biomedical engineering and innovation, both nationally and internationally. He is the author of numerous publications; holds patents in the fields of vascular biology, thrombosis, polymeric biomaterials, local drug delivery, medical device development and artificial organs; is an active reviewer for multiple journals; and is a consultant for academia, industry and governmental agencies. Most recently, Dr. Slepian has served as president of the International Society for Mechanical Circulatory Support (ISMCS), secretary/treasurer of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) and as annual meeting program chair of both of these societies for 2017.

For a lifetime of leadership, vision and commitment to making life better in Arizona and around the world, Marvin J. Slepian, MD, is being honored with the 2017 Arizona Bioscience Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Past recipients of the AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement include: Dr. George Poste, DVM, PhD, FRC Path, FRS, of Arizona State University; Gordon Steere for his legacy in developing the Medtronic Tempe Campus; Roy Curtiss, III, PhD, of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University; David S. Alberts, MD, director emeritus of the University of Arizona Cancer Center; Raymond L. Woosley, MD, PhD, chairman emeritus of the Critical Path Institute; and Thomas M. Grogan, MD, founder of Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.

A ceremony honoring Dr. Slepian will take place at the AZBio Awards on Oct. 11 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The AZBio Awards ceremony celebrates Arizona’s leading educators, innovators and companies. Each year, AZBio honors bioindustry leaders from across the state of Arizona who are illustrative of the depth, breadth and expertise of its bioscience industry. The AZBio Awards ceremony is held annually during Arizona Bioscience Week. AZBW 2017 was proclaimed by the Arizona Senate earlier this year. Multiple educational events focused on the value of life science innovation will take place from Oct. 8-14, including the BMES Annual Meeting in Phoenix.  The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) is the world’s leading society of professionals devoted to developing and using engineering and technology to advance human health and well-being. Attendees at BMES 2017 in Phoenix are expected to include nearly 4,000 professional scientists, engineers, researchers and students from academia and industry who are leaders in biomedical engineering.


For registration and more information, go to

For more information on Arizona Bioscience Week, visit

About AZBio

A key component in Arizona’s life science ecosystem, the Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio) is the only statewide organization exclusively focused on Arizona’s bioscience industry. AZBio membership includes patient advocacy organizations, life science innovators, educators, healthcare partners and leading business organizations. AZBio is the statewide affiliate of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and works in partnership with AdvaMed, MDMA and PhRMA to advance innovation and to ensure that the value delivered from life-changing and life-saving innovation benefits people in Arizona and around the world.

For more information visit  and www.AZBio.TV  


Joan Koerber-Walker, Arizona Bioindustry Association   480-332-9636


Amanda Vega   (480) 275-9797


Katie Maass   (520) 626-4083


Photos available upon request

Posted in AZBio News.