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April 17, 2001

"ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 27, 2001 "

Two pioneering developers of the heart pacemaker have been awarded the National Academy of Engineering's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize.
Bakken, Greatbatch Win Russ Prize

Two pioneering developers of the heart pacemaker have been awarded the National Academy of Engineering's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize. The $500,000 prize recognizes outstanding achievements in an emerging engineering field that is improving the human condition.

This year's winners are Earl Bakken, co-founder of Medtronic Inc., and Wilson Greatbatch, founder of Wilson Greatbatch Inc.

Bakken was chairman and chief executive officer from Medtronic's incorporation in 1957 until 1976. He retired as an officer in 1989. He developed the first wearable, battery-powered, transistorized pacemaker in 1957 for a heart surgeon at the University of Minnesota, Dr. C. Walton Lillehei.

In the late 1950s, Greatbatch used his savings to begin hand-building pacemakers.
His pacemaker was later licensed to Medtronic. His subsequently developed a battery with a lithium anode and iodide cathode and a solid-state, self-healing electrolyte. In 1970, his company began making and selling the battery, which gained wide use.

The Russ Prize was endowed in 1999 by Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ through Ohio University. Initially, the prize will recognize achievements in bioengineering.

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