Photo of Robert E. Fischell

Robert E. Fischell

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Medicine

For invention of novel medical devices used in the treatment of many illnesses thereby improving the health and saving the lives of millions of patients around the world.

Robert Fischell on his first invention

If Robert E. Fischell once invented a rechargeable pacemaker in just four days, imagine what the scientist and engineer has been able to accomplish in his 65-year career.

Fischell, a professor of practice at University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, is considered the father of modern medical stents, lifetime pacemaker batteries and implantable insulin pumps. He holds more than 200 patents and has founded more than half a dozen companies to help carry out his research.

His latest projects—some of which he has collaborated on with his children—include devices that can stop an epileptic seizure before it starts, warn of an impending heart attack and eliminate migraine headaches.

Fischell’s knack for inventing life-changing medical devices came later in his career. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Duke University and a master’s degree in physics from the University of Maryland at College Park, he served as a civilian engineer in the Navy for eight years. After that, he worked as chief engineer in the space department at the Applied Physics Lab, and later, as chief of technology transfer there, helping to create space satellites used for communications, entertainment, business and national security.

By Sydni Dunn