CLEVELAND — The 2007 edition of the always interesting Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit this week returns to a theme that the clinic excels at: cardiovascular medicine.

The timing of this topic is particularly appropriate as the Cleveland Clinic prepares to open a new heart center next fall that it believes will show the way concerning the future of how cardiovascular medicine is likely to be practiced.

While most people are curious about the five-year horizon for medicine, Chris Coburn, executive director of CCF Innovations — the technology transfer arm of the Cleveland Clinic — told Medical Device Daily that the new heart facility will seek to look far beyond that time frame. “To me, an interesting thing about the heart center is ... that it represents the best thinking of the best people in cardiovascular [medicine] about where the field is going over the next 25 or 35 years. That building is going to be the primary site of cardiovascular services for us for really probably a generation, or even two.”

Coburn emphasized the appeal of the cardiovascular field — the largest in medical technology and healthcare in general – for investors, saying that it represents “more than $400 billion in the aggregate.”

This year’s topic would also seem to have struck a sharp chord with attendees.

Coburn reported that as of last Friday, nearly 960 people had already registered for the three-day event, an all-time high in the event’s five-year history, with many late registrants and walk-ups expected to swell that number. The growing success of the event could make things a bit crowded this year, particularly since the main auditorium at the InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center is designed to hold 600 people.

That larger numbers of attendees may make things interesting, but Coburn expressed confidence that all will be well. “It always seems to work itself out,” he said, since, as in the past, the events will be broadcast from the auditorium into the hallways and into a handful of overflow rooms.

As for the presentations on the menu this year, the conference schedule reveals another full slate of topics and speakers likely to whet attendee appetites. It features famed TV interviewer Larry King, of CNN fame, chairing a panel discussing the state of cardiovascular medicine. Members of the panel include the chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic; Steve Nissen, MD, Bruce Lytle, MD, chairman of CardioThoracic Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic; Michael Mussallem, CEO of Edwards Lifesciences (Irvine, California); Elizabeth Nabel, MD, director of the National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and Tony Zook, U.S. president/CEO of AstraZeneca (London).

Tim Robinson, MD, medical editor for ABC News is moderating a panel on the impact of innovation. Discussing healthcare’s future will be panel members Bill Hawkins, who recently became the CEO at Medtronic (Minneapolis), and Steve Helmsley, CEO of UnitedHealth Group (Minneapolis).

One of the panels will focus on the continued broad activity in the cardiovascular device sector. And a venture capital panel will evaluate the state of investing in this sector.

Another panel will tackle “DES Utilization in 2012” — a large grey area, given the current state of this particular cardiovascular sector — followed by panel looking at the potential uses of stem cells in the coming decade and a the promise of prevention and wellness in cardiovascular health.

The conference finishes up on a strong note with the second annual “Top Ten” medical innovations list, followed by panels on the coming personalized medicine revolution and heart rhythm therapies and challenges.

As usual, the speakers list reads like a “Who’s Who” in the medical technology field, particularly as it pertains to the cardiology sector.

In addition to those already mentioned, this year’s speakers include John Abele, co-founder and director of Boston Scientific (Natick, Massachusetts); John Capek, PhD, executive VP, medical devices at Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, Illinois); Sidney Cohen, MD, PhD, VP of clinical research at Conor Medsystems (Menlo Park, California), a unit of Cordis (Miami Lakes, Florida), David Steinhaus, MD, VP and medical director at Medtronic (Minneapolis); LeRoy Lenarz, MD, VP of medical affairs at Medtronic Vascular (Minneapolis); Kerry Clark, CEO of Cardinal Health (Dublin, Ohio); and George Buckley, president/CEO of 3M (St. Paul, Minnesota).

Coburn said that this meeting is coming at a good time to talk about healthcare issues, with the presidential election coming up in about 13 months. He said the next 12 months “are going to be the most important months in healthcare policy in the last 15 years.”

He added: “For this audience of decision-makers and investors, the conference will be a nice one, I think, crystallizing what the issues are and how they have become issues.”

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