Robert Jarvik

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Robert Jarvik
Robert Koffler Jarvik

(1946-05-11) May 11, 1946 (age 76)
Alma materSyracuse University
New York University
Occupation(s)Scientist, researcher
Known forDeveloping the Jarvik-7 artificial heart
Elaine Levin
(m. 1968; div. 1985)

(m. 1987)
RelativesMurray Jarvik (paternal uncle)

Robert Koffler Jarvik (born May 11, 1946) is an American scientist, researcher and entrepreneur known for his role in developing the Jarvik-7 artificial heart.

Early life[edit]

Robert Jarvik was born in Midland, Michigan, to Norman Eugene Jarvik and Edythe Koffler Jarvik, and raised in Stamford, Connecticut.[1] He is the brother to Jonathan Jarvik, a biological sciences professor at Carnegie Mellon University,[2] as well as the nephew of Murray Jarvik, a pharmacologist who was the co-inventor of the nicotine patch.[3][4]

Jarvik is a graduate of Syracuse University. He earned a master's degree in medical engineering from New York University.[5]

After being admitted to the University of Utah School of Medicine, Jarvik completed two years of study, and in 1971 was hired by Willem Johan Kolff, a Dutch-born physician-inventor at the University of Utah,[5] who produced the first dialysis machine, and who was working on other artificial organs, including a heart. Jarvik received his M.D. in 1976 from the University of Utah. Jarvik is a medical scientist, and did not complete an internship or residency and has never been licensed to practice medicine.[6][7]


Jarvik joined the University of Utah's artificial organs program in 1971, then headed by Willem Johan Kolff, his mentor. At the time, the program used a pneumatic artificial heart design by Clifford Kwan-Gett that had sustained an animal in the lab for 10 days. Kolff assigned Jarvik to design a new heart that would overcome the problems of the Kwan-Gett heart, eventually culminating with the Jarvik-7 device.[8]

In 1982, the team carried out an artificial heart implant - the second ever, 13 years after Domingo Liotta and Denton Cooley's first in 1969.[9] William DeVries first implanted the Jarvik-7 into retired dentist Barney Clark at the University of Utah on December 1, 1982. Clark required frequent visits to the hospital for the next 112 days, after which he died. During frequent press conferences to update the patient's condition, Jarvik, along with DeVries, briefed the world's media on Clark's condition. The next several implantations of the Jarvik-7 heart were conducted by Humana, a large health care insurance company. The second patient, William J. Schroeder, survived 620 days.[10] In 1983, Jarvik and DeVries received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[11]

In 2006, Jarvik began appearing in television commercials for Pfizer's cholesterol medication Lipitor. Two members of Congress, as part of their campaign against celebrity endorsements, began an investigation as to whether his television advertisements constitute medical advice given without a license to practice medicine. One commercial depicted Jarvik rowing, he did not row himself, and a body double was used.[12] Later, Jarvik said that he had not taken Lipitor until becoming a spokesman for the company.[13] On February 25, 2008, Pfizer announced that it would discontinue its ads with Jarvik.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Jarvik has been married twice. He has a son and daughter with his first wife, Salt Lake City writer and journalist Elaine Jarvik.[15][16] In 2011 she and her daughter wrote the play, A Man Enters, inspired by Jarvik's absent relationship with his children since their divorce.[15]

Jarvik has been married to Parade magazine columnist Marilyn vos Savant since August 23, 1987.[17]

Contrary to some sources,[18] Jarvik is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[19]


Inline citations[edit]

  1. ^ "Men in the News: A Pair of Skilled Hands to Guide an Artificial Heart: Robert Kiffler Jarvik". Article in The New York Times, 3 December 1982. Retrieved from [1] on 2006-06-23.
  2. ^ University, Carnegie Mellon. "Jonathan W. Jarvik - Biological Sciences - Carnegie Mellon University". Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  3. ^ Maugh II, Thomas (2008-05-14). "Dr. Murray E. Jarvik, 84; UCLA pharmacologist invented nicotine patch". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  4. ^ "Dr. Murray Jarvik, co-inventor of nicotine patch, dies at 84 in Santa Monica". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  5. ^ a b "Milestones". Rime Magazine, March 2, 2009 p.18
  6. ^ "Men in the News: A Pair of Skilled Hands to Guide an Artificial Heart: Robert Kiffler Jarvik". Article in The New York Times, 3 December 1982. Retrieved from [2] on 2007-05-27.
  7. ^ "Is this celebrity doctor's TV ad right for you?". Article in NBC News, 1 March 2007. Retrieved from [3] on 2007-05-27.
  8. ^ "Salem Press". Archived from the original on 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2010-06-14. Great Lives from History: Inventors and Inventions -- Robert Jarvik
  9. ^ Liotta/Cooley "Orthotopic Cardiac Prosthesis for Two-Staged Cardiac Replacement," which appears in Volume 24 (1969) of the American Journal of Cardiology (pp. 723-730).
  10. ^ Artificial Heart – Early developments
  11. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  12. ^ "Congress questions Jarvik's credentials in celebrity ad" The State, January 8, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ American Medical Association Journal of Ethics October 2010, Volume 12, Number 10: 818-823
  14. ^ Bazell, Robert (1 March 2007). "Is this celebrity doctor's TV ad right for you?". NBC News.
  15. ^ a b "A Man Enters". Utah Stories. 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  16. ^ Gonzales, Laurence (1989). The Still Point. University of Arkansas Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-55728-081-7. Elaine Levin Jarvik.
  17. ^ "About Marilyn". Archived from the original on 2006-05-07. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
  18. ^ Brother Paul's Mormon Bathroom Reader
  19. ^ Skousen, Paul B.; Moon, Harold K. (November 1, 2005), Brother Paul's Mormon Bathroon Reader, Cedar Fort, p. 39. Archived at Google Books. Retrieved March 21, 2016.

General references[edit]

  • Frazier, O H; Myers, T J; Jarvik, R K; Westaby, S; Pigott, D W; Gregoric, I D; Khan, T; Tamez, D W; Conger, J L; Macris, M P (2001). "Research and development of an implantable, axial-flow left ventricular assist device: the Jarvik 2000 Heart". Ann. Thorac. Surg. Vol. 71, no. 3 Suppl (published Mar 2001). pp. S125–32, discussion S144–6. doi:10.1016/S0003-4975(00)02614-X. PMID 11265847.
  • Jarvik, R K; Lawson, J H; Olsen, D B; Fukumasu, H; Kolff, WJ (1978). "The beat goes on: status of the artificial heart, 1977". The International Journal of Artificial Organs. Vol. 1, no. 1 (published Jan 1978). pp. 21–7. PMID 352968.

External links[edit]