Skip to main content

UM SOM Board Member and Benefactor Robert E. Fischell, Awarded Presidential Medal

January 21, 2016

Robert E. Fischell, ScD

Award is the Highest Honor for Technological Innovation Bestowed by the President of the United States

The White House has awarded Robert E. Fischell, ScD, a member of the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) Board of Visitors, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor for technological achievement bestowed by the president of the United States. Previous recipients have included such luminaries as Steven Jobs and Stephen Wozniak (Apple Computer, Inc.), Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. (Bechtel Group, Inc.), David Packard (Hewlett-Packard Company), Clarence L. Johnson (Lockheed Corporation), Edwin H. Land (Polaroid Corporation) and Edith Flanigen (Union Carbide).

“Robert Fischell’s inventions have been a major benefit to patients and to society as a whole,” said Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also Vice President of Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean at UM SOM. “This new honor is richly deserved, and underscores his decades of service.” For years, Fischell and his wife Susan R. Fischell have generously supported UM SOM with major donations and gifts, including the recent endowment of the first Dean’s Professorship in honor of Dean Reece. Claire Fraser, PhD, the Director of the UM SOM Institute for Genomic Sciences, was recently invested as the inaugural Dean’s Endowed Professor of Medicine.

Dr. Fischell is known for inventing life-saving medical devices, and pioneering the modern era of space satellites. He holds more than 200 patents, including nearly 30 patents on orbiting spacecraft. Fischell has invented or helped to invent several important medical devices, including coronary artery stents, the implantable heart defibrillator, the implantable insulin pump, a device to prevent migraine headaches, and a device to prevent death from heart attacks.

Dr. Fischell earned a BS in mechanical engineering at Duke University before relocating to Maryland to work at the U.S. Naval Ordnance Lab, and then the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. In 1953, he earned a master’s degree in physics at the University of Maryland, and in 1996, the university awarded him a doctorate degree.

Dr. Fischell is an active member of the University of Maryland community, serving on the Board of Visitors of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). His support helped establish the Fischell Department of Bioengineering in 2006 and Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices at UMCP, which will be inaugurated in 2016.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is awarded annually to individuals, teams, companies or divisions of companies for their outstanding contributions to America’s economic, environmental, and social well-being. The purpose of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation is to recognize those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness, standard of living, and quality of life through technology innovation, and to recognize those who have made substantial contributions to strengthening the nation's technological workforce.

Established by the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, the medal was first awarded in 1985, and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office. Fischell and other recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation will receive their medals at a White House ceremony.

Fischell is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and is the recipient of many major honors, including the Inventor of the Year for the United States in 1983, induction into the Space Technology Hall of Fame and the Clark School’s Innovation Hall of Fame and an honorary Doctorate for Humane letters from the Johns Hopkins University in 2008.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

The University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 and is the first public medical school in the United States and continues today as an innovative leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland and is an integral part of the 11-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes, and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists and more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S. with top-tier faculty and programs in cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, vaccine development and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the nation, but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 35 countries around the world.


Office of Public Affairs
655 West Baltimore Street
Bressler Research Building 14-002
Baltimore, Maryland 21201-1559

Contact Media Relations
(410) 706-5260

Related stories