BackTable / Innovation / Podcast / Episode #23
Approach the Problem with Vision: Part I of the Neuwave Story
with Dr. Fred Lee
This is the first episode of a 3-part series on the origin, rise, and acquisition of NeuWave Medical, Inc., a medical device company focused on microwave ablation. In this first installment, we interview co-founder Dr. Fred Lee about his vision for starting the company. Dr. Lee takes us through his family history that shaped his identity as an innovator. His father was involved in the development of cryoablation as a treatment for prostate cancer, which inspired him to find applications for ablation in other types of cancer.
BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2022, April 26). Ep. 23 – Approach the Problem with Vision: Part I of the Neuwave Story [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.backtable.com
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Dr. Fred Lee
Fred T. Lee Jr, MD is a professor of Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Urology, The Robert A. Turrell Professor of Imaging Science, and the Chief of Abdominal Intervention at the University of Wisconsin.
Dr. Bryan Hartley
Dr. Bryan Hartley is a practicing radiologist, host of the BackTable Innovation series, and co-founder of Pulmera in Palo Alto, CA.
In this episode, our host Dr. Bryan Hartley interviews interventional radiologist and medical device innovator Dr. Fred Lee about his advancements in percutaneous radiofrequency ablation and microwave ablation, as well as the founding of his company NeuWave. This is the first installment of a three-part series about the origin, rise, and acquisition of NeuWave.
Dr. Lee starts by describing how his family history shaped his clinical and research interests. His father was involved in the development of cryoablation as a treatment for prostate cancer, which inspired him to find applications for ablation in other types of cancer. Dr. Lee recognized the inefficiencies in early radiofrequency ablation probes – they needed to be periodically turned off to prevent overheating. Along with the University of Wisconsin Engineering Department, he developed electronic switches that could turn a probe off and power another one in order to maximize efficiency during the procedure. Dr. Lee also describes the tech transfer and licensing of the product, noting lessons that he learned about intellectual property along the way.
Next, Dr. Lee recounts a chance encounter with Dr. Dan Van der Weide, his future co-founder. Along with their graduate students, this team built a microwave ablation probe and decided to found a company instead of licensing the product. Dr. Lee advises budding physician-entrepreneurs to invest in finding and retaining team members that can fill in their skill gaps. He also encourages innovators to have the vision to look for areas for improvement in clinical practice, even when the status quo seems like it is sufficient.
Stay tuned for the second and third installments!
NeuWave Microablation System:
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF):
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