Photo of Adam Heller

Adam Heller

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Medicine

For fundamental contributions to electrochemistry and bioelectrochemistry and the subsequent application of those fundamentals in the development of technological products that improved the quality of life of millions across the globe, most notably in the area of human health and well-being.

Adam Heller was born in Romania and was only 11-years-old when he, along with more than a thousand other Jews, fled the Nazis on a train bound for Switzerland in 1944. Heller and his family survived the holocaust and emigrated to Palestine.

Heller received his M.Sc and Ph.D. in Chemistry and Physics from Hebrew University before leaving for Berkeley for post-doctoral work and going on to head Bell Laboratories’ Electronic Materials Research Department. His career has been one of diverse and far-ranging discoveries, including work toward the first neodymium liquid lasers and improving the efficiency of solar cells.

He also helped create the earliest lithium batteries, a technology now in use across millions of computers, smartphones, electric automobiles, and medical devices—including his own. Today, he is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin where he helped establish the field of the electrical wiring of enzymes and created a device through his company, TheraSense, that allows diabetics to continuously monitor and adjust their glucose levels. In 2008 the device was approved by the FDA and is now helping diabetics all across America.

Casey Samulski