Past Lefteroff Interns Thrive Post Program

The Lefteroff internship program, with its focus on mentorship and education, is a true reflection of the ideals of the Fogarty Institute. Each year, we are honored to host these bright young minds as they explore the potential for a career in the life sciences. The graduates represent an important legacy, which is why we are always keen to follow their progress.

As we celebrated the graduation of our most recent – and largest – class of summer interns, we took the opportunity to check in with some of our past graduates.  We are proud to report that their internship experiences indeed sowed seeds that have flourished into a deep-rooted passion for our industry.

“The long-term success of our graduates is what makes this program so rewarding for everyone involved, and many are well on their way to making an impact on patients and the industry as a whole,” says Denise Zarins, program director. “It’s invigorating to hear their stories, which continually motivate us to continue enriching and improving the program for the classes to come.” 

Where are they now? Here are a few noteworthy examples: 

Patrick Thompson, Lefteroff Class of 2013; co-founder of Zeit Medical and vascular surgery resident at Stanford

A member of the first intern class, Patrick says the experience piqued his interest in medical devices, and as a result, he joined the Stanford Biodesign program and later co-founded Zeit Medical with other Fellows from the program. The startup is based on the Stanford campus and is looking at early detection of ischemic stroke in high-risk patients with the aim to get them quickly to the hospital for treatment, thus saving lives and reducing morbidity. The company has already received several grants to support its work.

Patrick is looking forward to finishing his residency as well as continuing his role as an innovator with the hopes of becoming a serial entrepreneur. “I am grateful to the Institute for opening a lot of doors for me and helping direct my career path. I really like the variety and fast-paced creative lifestyle that comes with interfacing with different aspect of healthcare and look forward to making an impact.”

Nisu Patel, Lefteroff class of 2015; senior R&D engineer at Abbott 

The Lefteroff internship brought Nisu to the Bay Area for the first time, a place he now calls home. Through networking opportunities at the Fogarty Institute, Nisu got his first job at Abbott, where he is working on the next generation of the MitraClip, which was originally co-devised by Fogarty Institute vice chairman of the board and mentor, Fred St Goar, MD. Bringing Nisu’s experience full circle, Abbott is now a regular stop for the Lefteroff interns, where they have the opportunity to learn about career opportunities directly from him and several executives at the company.

“I am passionate about the industry, the impact we are having on patients, the variety within my job and how much I am learning every day,” said Nisu. “One of my favorite experiences at Abbott is when they bring in patients who have benefited from the devices we are working on. To see first-hand the tangible evidence of the impact we are making is invaluable and helps you to never lose sight of why we do what we do.”

Lindsay Axelrod, Lefteroff class of 2015; senior research associate at G-Tech Medical

Lindsay’s experience with G-Tech as an intern at the Fogarty Institute served as a launch pad for her career in healthcare and medical devices. She earned her master’s degree in translational medicine, which blends engineering and the clinical and entrepreneurial aspects of translating medical innovation into clinical reality, and now works with G-Tech. The company is developing a wearable technology aimed at improving outcomes and reducing costs by non-invasively monitoring gastrointestinal tract activity.

As is often common in a small startup, Lindsay’s role is broad-based, ranging from managing clinical trials to processing and analyzing data to business development. This is exactly what she likes: “Being part of a small startup provides a unique opportunity to be involved in so many different aspects of taking a medical device to market,” she says. “I enjoy being pushed outside my comfort zone and the immense amount of learning that comes along with it. That said, at the end of the day what I like best is pursuing a career that puts patients first. As a Crohn’s disease patient myself, there’s nothing more motivating and satisfying than working on a device that could impact my own disease management.”

Matt Zweber, Lefteroff class of 2017; R&D engineer at Terumo Medical Innovation 

One of the Fogarty Institute companies Matt worked with during his internship was Radial Medical, where he developed a solid foundation of learning what it takes to develop a device by exploring many different aspects, including design, quality systems, regulatory, fundraising and leadership skills.

He is currently an R&D engineer for another FII company-in-residence, Terumo Medical Innovation, where he is working on a new project that focuses on the intersection of digital health and heart failure. “I’m inspired by the challenges that healthcare professionals face, and I love collaborating with them and figuring out how to solve problems. Learning about the Japanese culture from my coworkers has also been a fun experience,” said Matt.

Matt intends to build on these skills he’s honing at Terumo to take an idea from initial concept to market and is considering the role of a clinical specialist or sales representative. Ultimately, he hopes to share his expertise through teaching.

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