Donald C. Harrison, M.D.
AtriCure

 
Dr. Donald Harrison is Professor of Medicine and Senior Vice President and Provost for Health Affairs Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati.  From 1986 to 2002, he was Senior Vice President and Provost for Health Affairs and directed the University’s Medical Center, which included over 1,000 faculty members and over $240 million in funded research.  He was one of the organizers of the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, an affiliation of major university and community medical centers, and he served as its Chairman of the Board for a two-year period after its organization.  Prior to 1986, Dr. Harrison was Professor of Medicine and Cardiology, Chief of the Division of Cardiology, and Co-Director of the Falk Cardiovascular Research Center of Stanford University.  He was also Chief of Cardiology at the Stanford University Hospital for 20 years.  During his 24 years at Stanford, he trained 156 post-doctoral cardiology fellows, many of whom are now heads of their own units.

Among his many professional honors and achievements, Dr. Harrison served as President of the American Heart Association, as Vice President and Trustee of the American College of Cardiology, and as a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.  He has also been a member of the editorial boards of 13 professional journals and has authored seven books and more than 585 scientific articles and reviews.

Currently, Dr. Harrison is a managing partner at Charter Life Sciences, a clinical stage life sciences venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, California.  He is currently a director of EnteroMedics, CoRepair, Kendle International, AtriCure, and Medical Education and Consultation.  Prior to their successful acquisitions, he was director of InControl, EP Technologies, and SciMed.  He was also a founder, or co-founder, of EP Technologies, Vesta, AtriCure, and two life science incubators, Bio/Start and Venturi Group.

Dr. Harrison received a B.S. in Chemistry from Birmingham Southern College, an M.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and an honorary Doctor of Law from Birmingham Southern College.  He received his training in Medicine and Cardiology at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital of the Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health.

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QDon, you are the only cardiologist to make the cut.

A I have always been interested in developing new concepts and new approaches - both for the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. The four companies that I have either founded or co-founded all relate to my belief that I had something to contribute that would improve patient care.

QMost doctors don't have the entrepreneurial bug, especially someone who had been chief of cardiology at Stanford for 20 years.

A I think it was my training and my time at the National Institutes of Health. I was with a very entrepreneurial group that was really on the cutting edge of cardiovascular disease - thinking through new concepts, looking for ways to develop new approaches to treatment.

QWhat was your first company?

A EP Technology developed a method for a form of heart rhythm problem that was common in younger patients and caused much consternation and occasional death. We developed a technique using a catheter that could abolish the site that was causing the abnormal rhythm and developed that into a successful company.

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