Spring 2023

Innovation station

See the first battery-powered pacemaker and other medical devices that got their start at the University of Minnesota

Earl Bakken invented the first battery-powered wearable pacemaker in 1958 in response to a request from pioneering University of Minnesota heart surgeon C. Walton Lillehei, M.D., Ph.D., after a devastating power outage at his hospital. That invention went on to benefit upward of 3 million people, and it also put Minnesota on the map as a hot spot for medical innovation.

Today the University plays a significant role in Minnesota’s “medical alley,” where many of health care’s leading thinkers have come to work and create. In fiscal year 2022, the University was issued a record 241 patents, according to the U of M Office of the Vice President for Research, and last summer the U launched its 200th startup company since 2006.

Here are just a few notable medical devices that had their start at the University of Minnesota.