BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The renowned inventor of the tiny batteries
that have helped make implantable cardiac pacemakers,
defibrillators and other medical devices a life-saving reality for
millions of patients has accepted a faculty position in the
University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied
Esther S. Takeuchi, Ph.D., is leaving her post as chief
scientist at Greatbatch, Inc., after 22 years and will begin her
new position as a professor in the UB departments of Chemical and
Biological Engineering and Electrical Engineering on Sept. 1.
Takeuchi often is cited as the woman awarded the most patents in
the U.S. -- 134 at last count, most of them related to her
pioneering development of sophisticated power sources for
implantable devices, now a booming multibillion-dollar
Named to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004, she is one
of just 100 women elected to the organization, considered the
highest distinction that an engineering professional can achieve.
Only four percent of the academy's 2,300 active members are
"As one of our nation's most distinguished engineering
scientists, Dr. Takeuchi has been a powerful force in demonstrating
how research can transform people's lives." noted Satish K.
Tripathi, Ph.D., UB provost and executive vice president for
"As a member of our UB faculty, she will have the opportunity to
share her expertise and excitement for the field of engineering as
she helps to prepare our next generation of scientists and
inventors. I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Takeuchi to our
University at Buffalo family."
Takeuchi's hiring is part of a comprehensive effort to enhance
the national visibility of UB Engineering. The effort includes
major expansions in UB Engineering research programs, faculty
recruitment, physical facilities and student enrollment, all part
of the university's strategic plan, UB 2020, focused on achieving
enduring academic excellence and transforming UB into a model
21st-century public university.
During the next five to 10 years, UB Engineering plans to double
research expenditures to $80 million and to increase enrollment by
30 percent to 4,000. The school also is raising funds to construct
a new, state-of-the-art 130,000-square-foot facility on the Amherst
Campus, according to Harvey G. Stenger, Ph.D., dean of UB
"Dr. Takeuchi's recruitment will help UB Engineering build
stronger bridges to industry and, in particular, to Greatbatch,
Inc., a global leader in the biomedical device field," Stenger
said. "Her expertise adds a critical component to UB's
bioengineering portfolio, strongly complementing UB Engineering
faculty teams that develop devices and also benefiting scientists
in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences who study disease
and develop diagnostic tools and treatments."
According to Stenger, Takeuchi's joint appointment in the
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the
Department of Electrical Engineering demonstrates UB's commitment
to leveraging cross-disciplinary strengths in biomedical
Takeuchi said she is eager to expand her research with other
scientists at UB into areas including batteries for other medical
devices, understanding the physiological benefits of electrical
stimulation and even some homeland security applications, which
require ever-smaller sources of power.
"This is a match made in heaven," she said. "I will be working
with chemical engineers and bioengineers in the medical realm and
with electrical engineers who provide the electronics for the
Takeuchi's research at UB will be partly funded by UB's New York
State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.
"As a faculty member affiliated with the UB Center of
Excellence, Dr. Takeuchi brings not only her superb skills as a
researcher, but also a unique perspective from her experience
working at the center of the booming biomedical device industry,"
said Bruce A. Holm, Ph.D., senior vice provost and executive
director of the UB Center of Excellence. "She is precisely the type
of faculty member that the UB Center of Excellence was organized to
Stenger noted that Takeuchi's recruitment is particularly
important as the university grows to meet the challenges of the
"Not only is UB Engineering gaining an outstanding faculty
member with Dr. Takeuchi's appointment, but we are also getting the
most successful female inventor in the country," he said.
At Greatbatch, Inc., her development of the lithium/silver
vanadium oxide battery was a major factor in bringing implantable
cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) into production in the late 1980s.
ICDs are used to shock the heart into a normal rhythm when it goes
Twenty years later, with over 200,000 of these units being
implanted each year, more than 90 percent of them are powered by
the batteries that Takeuchi and her team developed and improved
over the past two decades.
The lithium power sources developed by Takeuchi and her
colleagues at Greatbatch have been utilized in pacemakers that also
function as home health monitors and neurostimulators for diseases
like epilepsy, Parkinson's and chronic pain. The batteries are
being tested in emerging products for disorders of the brain,
spinal cord, gastrointestinal system and others.
Thomas J. Hook, Greatbatch, Inc. president and chief executive
officer commented: "Although we are sad to see Dr. Takeuchi leave
Greatbatch after a successful 22 years of dedicated service with
the company, at the same time, we are excited for her new
beginning. Her prominent position in the departments of chemical
and biological engineering and electrical engineering at the
University at Buffalo will allow her to extend the wealth of her
expertise to the university, its students and the community. We are
looking forward to working closely with Esther and the thought
leaders at UB in support of important research studies in the
fields of chemical, biological and electrical engineering."
Takeuchi's success in the corporate world makes her an
enthusiastic proponent of work in the private sector, which she
notes, is where most engineering graduates will find
At the same time, she says, she has had a growing awareness of
issues that challenge engineering education in the U.S.
"Maybe by being a participant in the educational realm, I can
send a message to a broader group of people that it's not only okay
to work in this type of field, but that it's very exciting."
Takeuchi, who is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical
and Biological Engineering, is a recipient of the Battery Division
of the Electrochemical Society Technology Award for development of
lithium/silver vanadium oxide batteries and the Jacob F.
Schoellkopf Award by the Western New York American Chemical Society
for creative research in batteries for medical applications.
She has received the Inventor of the Year Award, Physical
Sciences, of the Technical Societies Council of the Niagara
Frontier and the Niagara Frontier Intellectual Property Law
Association; a Pioneers of Science Award from Hauptman-Woodward
Medical Research Institute; a citation from UB's Community Advisory
Board for outstanding achievement in science; a Woman of
Distinction citation from the American Association of University
Women and the Achievement in Healthcare Award from D'Youville
College. She also was inducted into the Western New York Women's
Hall of Fame.
A member of the board of directors of the Buffalo Museum of
Science and its executive committee and of the Buffalo Academy of
the Sacred Heart, Takeuchi also is active in the YWCA and the
Western New York Pioneers of Science Program.
She earned her doctorate in chemistry at the Ohio State
University and completed post-doctoral work in electrochemistry at
the University of North Carolina and UB. She received a bachelor's
degree from the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in
chemistry and history.
Takeuchi lives in East Amherst.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State
University of New York. UB's more than 27,000 students pursue their
academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate
and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University
at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American