European Patent Office Names U.S. Inventor Esther Sans Takeuchi European Inventor Award 2018 Finalist

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Nomination honors Professor Sans Takeuchi for developing a battery that increases the lifespan of implantable defibrillators by fivefold, greatly reducing the need for reoccurring surgeries

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Professor Takeuchi's innovative work on energy storage and power sources is enabling life-saving technologies that benefit millions of heart-failure patients.

The European Patent Office (EPO) today announced that it has named U.S. Inventor Esther Sans Takeuchi a finalist for the European Inventor Award 2018 in the category "Non-EPO countries." The winners of this year's edition of the EPO's annual innovation prize will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on June 7, 2018.

Patients at high risk of heart attack often receive pacemakers, and more frequently today, sophisticated implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs). These devices detect and correct irregular, potentially fatal, heart rhythms, thereby safeguarding millions of lives. The fitting of these devices, and the replacement of the batteries that run them, involves surgery, with its attendant hazards. U.S. Inventor Esther Sans Takeuchi developed a battery with a nearly fivefold increase in lifespan that greatly reduces the number of times an ICD wearer might have to go through such an operation. This has led not only to an advance in battery chemistry but wider acceptance of a life-saving ICDs and a significant improvement in patient well-being.

“Sans Takeuchi's innovative work on energy storage and power sources is enabling life-saving technologies that benefit millions of heart-failure patients,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli, announcing the European Inventor Award 2018 finalists. "Her developments in the field of battery technology have also made her one of the most prolific US women inventors."

Materials scientist and chemical engineer Esther Sans Takeuchi's career has been dedicated to electrochemistry and more specifically battery technology. Sans Takeuchi's invention of the compact lithium/silver vanadium oxide (Li/SVO) battery enabled the wide-spread introduction of modern implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs). With about 300,000 of these devices implanted each year, they are quite literally life-savers – using a high-voltage shock to reset the heart and prevent sudden death in high-risk patients who are susceptible to cardiac arrest.

Sans Takeuchi's Li/SVO battery extended the power-source lifetime for ICDs to around five years and played an important role in their widespread adoption beginning in the late 1980’s. The battery technology was first employed in an implanted ICD in 1987 and commercialised by Greatbatch (since 2016 renamed Integer Holdings), which now manufactures ICD batteries based on the invention and licenses the technology to two other battery suppliers. Li/SVO batteries remain the most commonly used batteries in ICDs and have since been incorporated as one of the leading power sources for a broader class of implantable cardiac rhythm management devices, which includes devices that combine ICD, pacemaker and other heart monitoring functions.

Sans Takeuchi also played an active role in numerous additional improvements of the system that optimised it as a high-rate ICD battery. Two of other her patented inventions added carbon monofluoride to the silver vanadium oxide in the cathode to develop a related, smaller battery that enabled the development of more compact ICDs that are safe to use despite their reduced volume. Sans Takeuchi's patents are also behind batteries powering neurostimulators, pumps and many other implanted devices.

The daughter of Latvian emigrants, Esther Sans Takeuchi credits her parents for instilling in her a strong work ethic from a young age and for awaking her interest in science. “My father did not believe that school did an adequate job of teaching mathematics and would teach me algebra in the evening,” says Sans Takeuchi. "Both my parents felt that a scientific education was extremely important." Indeed, Sans Takeuchi's academic programme provided her with a rich background for her later professional work. She earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975 and a PhD in organic chemistry from Ohio State University in 1981. She then served as postdoctoral research associate in electrochemistry, first at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1982 to1983, and then at the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1983 to 1984. Directly thereafter she found a professional home as scientist, chief scientist, then Director of Research and Development of Battery Research & Development at Greatbatch Inc.

She returned to her academic roots in 2007 to take a professorship position at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Since 2012, she has been the SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering department at Stony Brook, New York, as well as Chief Scientist of the Energy Sciences Directorate at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

With over 150 U.S. patents and 39 European patents to her name, Sans Takeuchi is credited with being one of the most prolific American female inventors. In 2009, she was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by U.S. President Barack Obama for her invention of the Li/SVO battery. In 2011 she was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame, and in 2013, she received the E.V. Murphree Award in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. She is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological engineering, and a Fellow of the Electrochemical Society, for which she served as President from 2011-2012.

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View the patents: EP1768203, EP1816692


With more than 7,000 employees, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Its headquarters is in Munich and it has offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague, and Vienna. The EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralized patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in the 38-member states of the European Patent Organization. The EPO is also considered the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.

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