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Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Whitaker Foundation
Purdue dedicates biomedical engineering facility
Cook Group's gift advances Purdue biomedical research, honors Leslie Geddes

September 22, 2006

Purdue honors bioengineer, 85, with surprise tribute

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Colleagues and former students gathered at Purdue University on Friday (Sept. 22) to share stories and testimonials about biomedical engineer Leslie Geddes, whose research has spawned innovations ranging from burn treatments to miniature defibrillators, ligament repair to tiny blood pressure monitors for premature infants.

Leslie Geddes
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Geddes, the Showalter Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Engineering, was honored at Purdue's new biomedical engineering building with a surprise tribute featuring speakers from industry and academia.

"Dr. Geddes is an incredibly innovative thinker, prolific inventor and gracious individual," said Leah H. Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "His work has been a major factor behind Indiana's emergence as a national leader in biomedical industries."

Also on Friday, Cook Group Inc., of Bloomington, Ind., capped the dedication of Purdue's new Biomedical Engineering Building with a gift to support a $1.5 million endowed professorship. The company will provide $750,000 to endow the Leslie A. Geddes Chair in Biomedical Engineering in honor of the longtime faculty member.

The 85-year-old researcher began his career in 1952 at Baylor University College of Medicine and was recruited to Purdue in 1974 to help the university develop an organized biomedical engineering program and create new technologies in the field.

In 2004 Geddes received the university's Outstanding Commercialization Award to recognize his 30 patents, many now licensed by Indiana companies. Patents and technologies emerging from Geddes' lab have generated $15 million in royalties for Purdue.

"It's especially fitting to honor Dr. Geddes this way because one of his most impressive traits is his ability to inspire people, including students, faculty and industrial collaborators," said George Wodicka, head of Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. "Everyone who works with him is energized by his curiosity and his willingness to test new ideas in the laboratory. At the same time, he has been a tireless mentor for students and his dedication to teaching has been legendary."

Leslie Geddes
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Among his team's many accomplishments are:

• A regenerative tissue graft made from a layer of a pig's intestines known as small intestinal submucosa, or SIS, which has been used by surgeons to treat more than 200,000 patients so far.

• An automated miniature defibrillator — a device that jolts the heart with electricity during a heart attack — that is small enough to implant inside a person.

• A pacemaker that automatically increases a person's heart rate during exercise.

• A portable electrocardiograph that patients use to monitor the electrical patterns of their own hearts.

• A miniature cuff that fits over the pinky-size limbs of premature infants to measure blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates, and the amount of oxygen in the blood.

• A device that tells medical personnel whether they are properly administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The device could be crucial in saving lives because every minute of delay in resuscitation reduces the chance of survival by 10 percent.

"The basic problem is that people don't push hard enough on the patient's chest," said Geddes, whose invention, called the Cyclops Whistler, is placed on the patient's forehead. "It whistles every time you push the chest. The harder you press the chest, the higher the pitch."

Geddes' work has brought monetary benefits to Purdue researchers as well. One-third of the $15 million in royalties goes into the university's venture fund, which supports other research to develop new technologies. Indiana-based companies that have licensed and commercialized Geddes' inventions are Cook Biotech Inc., DePuy Inc., Eli Lilly and Co., Hillenbrand Industries, Cook Inc., Technology Transfer Inc. and Theron Inc.

Geddes officially retired in 1991, but he still comes to work every day around 4:30 a.m., teaches a course and has three ongoing research projects, one of which is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Those who spoke during Friday's (Sept. 22) program, and their topics, were:

• John DeFord, a Purdue alumnus and vice president of science and technology at C. R. Bard Inc. "The Life and Times of Dr. Geddes."

• Lee Baker, Robert L. Parker Sr. Centennial Professor Emeritus of Engineering, University of Texas at Austin. Geddes' contributions and early days.

•Willis A. Tacker, a Purdue professor in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences. Purdue's courtship of Geddes and his transition from Baylor University to Purdue.

• Earl Bakken, founder of medical-technology company Medtronic Inc., who appeared in a video. Geddes' impact on students and colleagues.

• Huntly Millar, founder of Houston-based Millar Instruments Inc. His experiences in working with Geddes.

• Norman Weldon, an alumnus and entrepreneur whose family committed $10 million toward Purdue's biomedical engineering program. Geddes' impact on the field of biomedical engineering and his role in commercializing new technologies.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Sources: Leah Jamieson, (765) 494-5346, lhj@purdue.edu

Leslie Geddes, (765) 494-2997, geddes@ecn.purdue.edu

George Wodicka, (765) 494-2998, wodicka@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Leslie Geddes, Showalter Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Engineering, is shown working in his Purdue lab earlier in his career. Geddes' 54-year career has spawned innovations ranging from burn treatments to miniature defibrillators, ligament repair to tiny blood pressure monitors for premature infants. He was honored on Friday (Sept. 22) during an event at Purdue. (Purdue University file photo)

A publication-quality photograph is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2006/geddes-lab.jpg

Leslie Geddes, Purdue's Showalter Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Engineering, works in the lab to test a device he helped invent that uses optical techniques to measure the vital signs of premature infants. (Purdue file photo/Vincent Walter)

A publication-quality photograph is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2006/geddes-honor.jpg


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