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Treating Patients with Innovation


I’m a bit of a square peg in a circular hole. I never thought I’d be an academic, but I’m very glad I am. I could not be happier to be at Stanford.

While studying bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, Todd Brinton, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine (cardiology), had no intention of pursuing a career in medicine. “I came to UCSD under the premise that I was an engineer,” he recalled. 

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Brinton joined a small team of PhDs in San Diego who were looking for an engineering intern to help them develop a noninvasive heart failure monitoring product. He spent the next five years with the company – helping them refine their product and secure venture capital funding.

During this time, Brinton developed a close relationship with Tony DeMaria, MD and Chief of Cardiology at UCSD, who was involved with the clinical aspects of the project. “Tony DeMaria was very influential and a great mentor for my career…he taught me a lot about research and about development.” It was DeMaria who encouraged Brinton to pursue medical school, saying: “Look, I think you can do this. You should go to medical school.” Brinton went on to medical school in Chicago, and joined Stanford as a resident in 2000 where he embarked on the clinical investigator pathway, a track designed for residents interested in pursuing a career as a physician-scientist. 

Brinton arrived to Stanford at the right time. In 2000, Stanford’s Biodesign program was just beginning to take shape under the leadership of Paul Yock, MD, and Thomas Krummel, MD.  The program’s multidisciplinary approach and focus on medical technology innovation appealed to Brinton; he joined as a fellow in 2004 and later as faculty in 2006.  “My goal is not just to touch the patient in front of me in the office, but to develop technology that touches thousands to millions of patients, because that’s true impact,” he explained.

Today, Brinton oversees the Biodesign fellowship program and co-directs the graduate course in biodesign innovation. “At Biodesign,” he said, “we want to develop the best technology and we want to develop the best people who are capable of being the next generation of physicians and innovators.”  His academic research focuses on the development of medical technologies and pre-clinical evaluation, with a specific focus on the evaluation of techniques for cardiac stem cell transplantation. Brinton is also co-founder of BioParadox, Inc., and sits on the advisory board of several medical device companies. “I’m a bit of a square peg in a circular hole,” he said. “I never thought I’d be an academic, but I’m very glad I am. I could not be happier to be at Stanford.”


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