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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Bilal Shafi, 34

Preventing congestive heart failure

University of Pennsylvania

Three years ago, surgical resident Bilal Shafi was in the thick of a heart transplant. The patient was a heart attack survivor whose heart function had silently continued to deteriorate, as it does in 30 percent of such cases. When that happens, the heart works harder, expanding to keep up its pumping ability and stretching its walls thin. Shafi had previously helped to install a permanent textile mesh around the patient's heart, an experimental and extreme procedure meant to prevent further dilation and ultimate heart failure. But the patient grew sick enough to require a transplant. During the surgery, Shafi thought, "Why aren't we treating this disease much earlier?"

So he became a fellow in the Stanford Biodesign Innovation program and, over the next three years, developed a biopolymer coating that wraps around the heart and prevents dilation. The coating, which starts out as a liquid, is injected through a catheter immediately following a heart attack. Then it gels, becoming flexible enough to expand with each heartbeat, yet firm enough to support the heart and allow it to heal. After six months, the polymer degrades and the body absorbs it. So far, Shafi has successfully tested it in mice and sheep. He recently returned to his surgical residency at the University of Pennsylvania and has launched a company, COR Innovations, to further develop the technology. --Jennifer Chu

2008 TR35 Winners

Martin Burke

Molecular diversity

Christopher Chang

Probing chemical reactions in the body

Michelle Chang

Designing microbes to make fuels and drugs

Donhee Ham

Portable nuclear magnetic resonance

Konrad Hochedlinger (video)

Turning adult cells into stem cells

Milica Radisic

Patching damaged hearts

Bilal Shafi (video)

Preventing congestive heart failure

Joo Chuan Tong

My vision: Personalized vaccines

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