A Proven Team

Manny Villafaña, Ph.D. Sc.

The Medical 21 team is led by Manny Villafaña.  Manny has a substantial track record starting companies that develop and deliver successful products to the market.

  • Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc. (CPI) revolutionized the pacemaker industry by introducing a long-life lithium iodine pacemaker, a technology still used today by 100% of the pacemaker/defibrillator market.  CPI is now owned by Boston Scientific.

  • St. Jude Medical developed an innovative, mechanical, bi-leaflet heart valve that dramatically reduced the frequency of blood clots.  St. Jude is now part of Abbott Medical.

  • ATS Medical further evolved the mechanical heart valve, introducing an open-pivot design and capturing a strong share of the market.  ATS is now owned by Medtronic.


As a result, Manny has received numerous awards of recognition, including:

Chaid Schwarz, Ph.D.
Biomechanics Scientist
  • Research at the University of Iowa:

       - Medical Devices

       - Cardiovascular Biomechanics

       - Biomaterial Development

       - Mechanical Assessment of Soft Tissues

  • Former Process Engineer at 3M.

  • Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, University of Iowa.

Eric Solien
Director of Pre-clinical Studies
  • Expert in the pre-clinical development of bypass grafts.

  • Accomplished pre-clinical surgeon.

  • Extensive experience in the application of Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) quality controls and methodologies.

  • Served as Associate Director of cardiovascular research laboratory (ESS) at the University of Minnesota.

Jeff Vreeman
Director of Manufacturing
  • Medical device experience with roles in:

       - Manufacturing

       - Operations

       - Process Development

       - R&D

       - Quality

  • Deep medical/technical experience with nitinol support systems.

  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of North Dakota.


Experienced Med-Tech/Business Advisors
John Babitt
Partner, Life Sciences at
Ernst & Young
  • 30 years of leadership across all sectors of life sciences, with a focus on medical technology

  • Served as President of a publicly traded medical technology company with Manny Villafaña.

  • Frequent lecturer and guest speaker at prominent life sciences conferences such as The Medtech Strategist, The Medtech Conference (AdvaMed) and The BIO Conference

Robert Emery Jr., M.D.
Cardiac Surgeon (Ret.)
  • Medical Director, Cardiovascular Surgery, St. Joseph’s Hospital, St.Paul, MN

  • Boston Children’s Hospital

  • Initial research work on St. Jude Heart Valve

  • Co-Founder & First President of Int’l Society of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

  • Member: American Association for Thoracic Surgery and Society of Thoracic Surgeons

David Joyce, M.D.
Director of Cardiac Transplantation, MCW
  • Associate Professor, Cardiac Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

  • Former Professor, Mayo Clinic

  • Member: Int’l  Society for Heart and Lung Transplant, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and American College of Surgeons

  • MBA, University of Chicago

  • Harvard Medical School

  • Resident, Johns Hopkins

  • Fellowship, Stanford University

Gene Myers, M.D.
Interventional Cardiologist
  • Principal at Florida Inst. for Angiography & Gene E. Myers Cardiac/Vascular Consultants

  • Completed 20,000+ coronary/peripheral procedures

  • Medical device & EMR patents

  • Discovered Cervicoprecordial angina disease

  • University of Pennsylvania medical school

  • Cardiology fellow, Duke & Georgetown (Nat’l Inst of Health, Children’s Nat’l Medical Center)

  • U.S. Navy, Lieutenant Commander

  • Cardiologist, Norfolk Regional Medical Center/East VA Med School

Lyle Joyce, M.D.
Professor of Surgery
Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Section Chief, Adult Cardiac Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

  • Co-surgeon on first permanent implant of the Jarvik 7 total artificial heart

  • First to implant a total artificial heart in a woman and a child

  • Former positions at the Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Heart Institute

Suresh M.L. Raghavan, Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of Iowa
  • Fulbright Distinguished Chair

  • Fellow, American Institute of Medical & Biological Engineering

  • 25 years experience in cardiopulmonary biomechanics and device design, critical care therapies, soft tissue mechanics, and computational modeling

  • Ph.D. in Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh