John B. Simpson
John B. Simpson (1947-)
Dr. John Simpson received his Medical degree from Duke University. He was fascinated by Andreas Grüntzig since August 1977, when Andreas presented his initial experience with canine coronary artery dilatations at Stanford. He thought that Andreas’s idea would “either revolutionize medicine or get him thrown in jail”. After going to see him in Zurich during the winter of 1978, he ordered angioplasty products from Schneider Medintag.
John developed a new technological approach to PTCA, based on an over-the-wire system, and attempted to manufacture his own balloon dilatation catheters. He met with Bard/USCI to propose this new technology. After a one and one half hour discussion, he was told that these ideas were interesting, that they appreciated talking to him, but that they were not interested in pursuing them any further. Two weeks later, USCI signed an agreement with Schneider Medintag to produce and distribute the Grüntzig dilatation system in America. This resulted in John Simpson forming ACS in 1978 with Ned Robert (an interventional cardiologist colleague) and Ray Williams (a prominent investor).
In February 1981, John Simpson provided a new catheter system for coronary angioplasty with an independently steerable guidewire located in the central lumen of the balloon catheter, replacing the short fixed non-steerable wire tip (5 mm) manufactured by Andreas Grüntzig. The introduction of the coaxial steerable guidewire was the first revolution in the history of coronary angioplasty. John Simpson’s contribution was essential in enabling selective catheterization of distal stenoses located in tortuous segments, thereby avoiding inappropriate collateral branches. ACS developed the famous Hi-Torque Floppy guidewire with excellent torqueability, which made it much easier to cross a stenosis. Additional guidewires, with varying stiffness, were eventually added to the Hi-Torque floppy family, as well as a multitude of dilatation catheters.
After ACS, John Simpson went on to create many other companies, including DVI and Fox Hollow (directional atherectomy), Perclose (vascular closure), LuMend (chronic total occlusions) and Avinger.