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UM School of Medicine to Become Major Center for Bioengineering Innovation with Transformational Gift from Entrepreneurial Leader and Longtime Benefactor Robert E. Fischell

May 07, 2018

Robert E. Fischell, ScD and Susan R. Fischell announcing gift Saturday evening at the UMSOM Gala

$20 million gift to establish National Center for Bioengineering Innovation, fund research and professorships

‌University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced today that the UMSOM will receive $20 million in philanthropic support from one of its most distinguished, long-time board members and benefactors, Robert E. Fischell, ScD. 

The gift, which will be used to transform the UMSOM into a major center for bioengineering innovation, is part of Dr. Fischell’s longstanding commitment to integrating the fields of medicine and engineering for the benefit of society.

The gift was announced at the 2018 School of Medicine Gala. Click here to read about the gala, view the gala videos and the photo gallery.

“Increasingly, the solutions to our most complex health problems will be found at the intersections of medicine, engineering and business,” said Dean Reece, who is also Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore and the John Z. and Akiko Bowers Distinguished Professor.  “This generous gift from Dr. Fischell will elevate the UMSOM as a national leader in making innovative discoveries and developing new medical technology in ways that will have direct benefit to patients around the world.”

Dr. Fischell, known for inventing life-saving medical devices, is one of the nation’s most innovative and successful technology entrepreneurs.  In 2016, he received the National Medal for Technology and Innovation from President Obama at the White House, the highest honor for technological innovation bestowed by the President of the United States.  In 2015, he was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.  He holds more than 200 patents, including nearly 30 patents on orbiting spacecraft, and is credited with pioneering the modern era of space satellites. Dr. 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.

“Robert Fischell is truly a ‘Renaissance Man’ for the 21st Century,” said Dean Reece.  “The School of Medicine is deeply grateful to him for this transformational gift.  We are so fortunate to have his wisdom, experience and entrepreneurial spirit at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.”

Jay A. Perman, MD, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore added:

“Dr. Fischell exemplifies all of the qualities and values that we hold dearly at UMB.  We are forever thankful for his long-term support and service to our institution,” he said.

The gift will be used to establish the Robert E. Fischell Center for Biomedical Innovation at the UMSOM, and provide funding for the UMSOM’s new 450,000 square foot research building (Health Sciences Research Facility III).  It will also provide critical support for research funds and endowed professorships at the Fischell Center.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to support the UMSOM in this way,” said Dr. Fischell.  “Our specific purpose for the new Center is to help expand the UMSOM’s capacity for biomedical engineering so that it will produce new technologies and devices that will help treat our most critical and chronic diseases.”

For years, Dr. Fischell and his wife Susan R. Fischell have generously supported UMSOM with major donations and gifts, including the endowment of the first Dean’s Professorship in honor of Dean Reece. Claire Fraser, PhD, the Director of the UMSOM Institute for Genomic Sciences, was invested as the inaugural Dean’s Endowed Professor of Medicine.

Dr. Fischell earned a BS degree in mechanical engineering at Duke University before relocating to Maryland to work at the U.S. Naval Ordnance Lab in 1951, and then the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. In 1953, he earned a master’s degree in physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, 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 the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices at UMCP, which was inaugurated in 2016.

Dr. 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.

Dr. Fischell is known for inventing life-saving medical devices like this one

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Commemorating its 210th Anniversary, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research.  With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically-based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and nearly $450 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact in excess of $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th-highest public medical school in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit

Learn More About the UMSOM Gala >>



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