Manny Villafana

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Manny Villafana
New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationFounder, Chairman and CEO, Medical 21, Inc. Founder, Chairman and CEO, Kips Bay Medical
St. Jude Medical
Founder, Chairman and President,
Cardiac Pacemakers Inc. (CPI)

Manny Villafaña was born in 1940 in New York City to Puerto Rican immigrants and attended Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx.[1] He began his medical career in 1964 at medical-device exporter Picker International. In 1967, he was hired away from Picker by Earl Bakken, CEO of Medtronic to become their first international sales administrator.[2]


In 1971 he launched Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc. (CPI); a CRM company that revolutionized the pacemaker industry by introducing a long life lithium iodine pacemaker, a technology still utilized by a majority of the market. CPI was ultimately acquired by Eli Lilly & Company, which spun it out as Guidant, which in turn was recently acquired by Boston Scientific, Inc.[3]

In 1976, he founded St. Jude Medical where his team engineered the first bileaflet mechanical heart valve, which reduced the frequency of blood clots in patients. It still dominates the mechanical valve replacement market .[4][5]

In 1982, Villafana founded GV Medical, which developed a device to open blood vessels open.[6]

In 1987, he founded Helix BioCore, which eventually transformed into ATS Medical, a company that developed a bi-leaflet valve which uses an open-pivot design to reduce clots and improve blood flow.[7]

Then in 2000, he launched CABG Medical to pursue the creation of an artificial graft for coronary bypass surgery. The company closed in 2006.[8]

In 2007, he launched Kips Bay Medical, a medical device company that focuses on proprietary external saphenous vein support technology for use in coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery. .[9]


  • 2010 Induction into the Minnesota Science and Technology Hall of Fame[10]
  • 2006 Ellis Island Medal of Honor[11]
  • 2006 Living Legend of Medicine Award from the World Society of Cardio Thoracic Surgeons[12]
  • 2003 Minnesota Business Hall of Fame[13]
  • 1998 Grand Prize Recipient - Mediterranean Institute of Cardiology[14]
  • 1993 Boys and Girls Club of America Hall of Fame [15]
  • 1990 National Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Master category[16]

Speaking engagements[edit]

  • 2009, 2011 Advances in Cardiothoracic Surgery ACTS
  • 2012 International Society of Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery ISMICS


External links[edit]