Driving Innovation in Intravascular Imaging and Therapy: The Visionary Leaders Behind Meridian Cardiovascular Systems

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Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming an estimated 1 million lives, and incurring a cost of $400 billion per year. Much of cardiovascular disease can be attributed to atherosclerotic plaque buildup in arteries, which accumulates over time. The coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, as well as the peripheral arteries that deliver blood to the limbs, are especially affected by plaque deposits. The presence of plaque in these arteries can lead to serious complications such as heart attacks, amputations, and even death. Current treatments of atherosclerotic plaque include stents, bypass surgery, or medications, all of which suffer from major shortcomings.

Over 24 million patients suffer from coronary and peripheral artery disease in the USA, while annual expenditures for their treatment exceed $90 billion and are projected to reach $215 billion by 2035.

Meridian Cardiovascular Systems (MCS), a cutting-edge medical technology startup company, is dedicated to addressing the challenges posed by coronary and peripheral artery disease and potentially 30 other clinical applications. Specializing in minimally invasive solutions, Meridian  Cardiovascular Systems (MCS) will offer catheter-based devices designed to safely and effectively remove arterial plaque and restore circulation. The Company’s innovative approach will serve as an alternative to such procedures as stent placement and bypass surgery. It will provide new avenues for treating ischemic heart disease and critical limb ischemia. This novel technology, which is supported by seven U.S. patents, has many advantages and will significantly impact the practice of interventional cardiology.

At the helm of MCS are Andy Hadjicostis, PhD, and Atif Zafar, MD. With a Ph.D. in physics and a specialty in acoustics and ultrasound, Andy Hadjicostis is a senior scientist, engineer, and technology leader with over 35 years of experience developing and manufacturing medical devices. He pioneered a wide range of medical devices throughout his career, including the first breast ultrasound imaging system, the first multi-plane trans-esophageal echocardiography probe, the first high-resolution solid-state intravascular imaging catheters, and others. He guided the development of these devices from conception to market.

Dr. Hadjicostis has also made significant contributions in the area of ultrasound transducer design and construction. Transducers play a crucial role in medical imaging systems, converting electrical signals into ultrasound waves and vice versa. Notably, his work in intravascular imaging systems revolutionized the field by introducing solid-state ultrasound devices capable of imaging inside arteries with unprecedented clarity. By designing transducer arrays with multiple elements and optimizing their configurations, Andy significantly improved the resolution and quality of intravascular images, leading to more accurate diagnoses and better patient outcomes. It is worth mentioning that the company for which he designed and built the intravascular imaging array was acquired by Philips for $1.2 billion in Dec. 2014. Given his career experience, Dr. Hadjicostis is uniquely positioned to drive MCS to accomplish its current mission.

Joining forces with Andy is Atif Zafar, MD.Despite starting his career in medicine, Atif’s passion for engineering never waned. He recognized the potential for engineering to enhance medical practice and embarked on a journey to blend his medical background with engineering study. This transition allowed him to bring a unique perspective to the intersection of healthcare and technology, ultimately shaping his role as a leader in medical device development. He has a 20-year background in medical informatics, serving as part of the team that developed the nation’s Health Information Technology website at AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research Quality). During his tenure in academia, he held $25 million in grant support, authored 25 publications, and gave lectures worldwide.

His background in medical informatics equips him with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the complex landscape of healthcare technology, facilitating the integration of innovative solutions into clinical practice. Additionally, Atif’s experience in clinical trials provides valuable insights into evaluating the efficacy and safety of medical devices, ensuring that they meet the highest standards of quality and effectiveness.

As part of Meridian Cardiovascular Systems, Atif is responsible for developing systems that process images from intravascular ultrasound catheters, utilizing advanced chips and software to visualize the interior of arteries and drive RF catheters for therapy. As a part of his other company, Brane Technologies, he has developed a portable supercomputer that can perform 5 trillion calculations in one second while only consuming the power of a lightbulb! This hand-held system will be used to create the visualizations of ultrasound data from inside the artery.

Dr. Hadjicostis’ detailed understanding of both general engineering principles as well as catheter technology perfectly complement Dr. Zafar’s medical knowledge, his proficiency in informatics, and his electronic processor design skills. Together, they form a dynamic partnership that drives innovation at Meridian Cardiovascular Systems, ensuring the development of comprehensive solutions that address the complex challenges of cardiovascular disease treatment.

Meridian Cardiovascular Systems has garnered support from the medical community, with investment and endorsement from medical professionals. These investors understand the challenges faced by patients with cardiovascular diseases and recognize the potential of Meridian’s minimally invasive solutions to improve patient outcomes.

The company has also attracted interest from industry leaders, including prominent figures with experience in medical device development and healthcare management. The fact that these individuals express interest in the company speaks volumes about the potential of its technology to disrupt the industry and address unmet needs in cardiovascular care.

With a vision for a healthier tomorrow, Meridian is poised to revolutionize cardiology and make a meaningful impact on global healthcare now and in the future.

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