These days, some of the biggest developments in engineering are also some of the smallest. Health care, communications, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and food processing are among the industries that are benefiting from remarkable advances in microelectromechanical engineering (MEMS). As a doctoral student at the UM College of Engineering, Dr. Nader Najafi was keenly aware of the vast potential of MEMS. He founded ISSYS in 1995 along with his brother and UM engineering professor Khalil Najafi and their former faculty advisor Kensall Wise. With the help of UM Tech Transfer, the company licensed eight patents for micro devices from the University of Michigan.
Today, ISSYS is well on its way to marketing a broad line of leading-edge microsystems. Animal studies have just been completed on prototype pressure sensors-wireless, battery-less, implantable micro devices for monitoring and treating congestive heart failure and hydrocephalus. Using its patented microtube technology, the company is refining portable multiple-drug delivery systems for treatment of AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases. Its flow sensors are finding ready buyers in a wide range of industries. And the company is also doing a brisk business as a provider of fabrication and pre-production services.
Najafi is quick to credit the University's role in his company's success. "The University of Michigan has been-and continues to be-a fantastic partner," he says. "I view it as an ocean of opportunity for start-up companies."
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