John Dobak, 34
John Dobak is as persistent as frost on a January windowpane.
Working in the dermatology clinic during his med school residency, Dobak was trying to freeze a wart off a patient using cryosurgery—the destruction of tissue by the application of extreme cold—when he tipped over the day’s supply of liquid nitrogen. After resorting to a simple, plug-in electric scalpel, Dobak started wondering why there weren’t any equally cheap and efficient devices for cryosurgery. He never let the question drop.
Operating from home,and funded by his VISA card, Dobak designed and patented a "closed-cycle" cryogenic device that wouldn’t leak chilled liquids. After hitting a dead-end marketplace in dermatology and initially rebuffed by the technological challenges of cardiac surgery, Dobak eventually launched his first company, Cryogen, to make a new instrument for gynecologic cryotherapy.
The simple,compact cryo-device the firm developed has won design awards for its ease of use, and is now being tested for treating excessive menstruation by freezing the cells that line the uterus. The approach may prove safer and cheaper than alternatives such as hysterectomy. This year Dobak started Innercool Therapies, which is working on a Dobak- designed catheter that slows damage from strokes by chilling blood on its way to the brain. With eight patents issued, and another eight pending, Dobak’s inventions have so far garnered a cool $42 million from venture capitalists.