Paul Yock is honored by National Academy of Engineering for bioengineering achievements


Paul Yock
Paul Yock

PAUL YOCK, professor of medicine and of bioengineering and the founder and director of the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, is one of five innovators chosen to receive the National Academy of Engineering’s 2019 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize.

The Russ Prize, which carries a $500,000 award, recognizes outstanding bioengineering achievements that improve the human condition through their widespread adoption. Yock and the other winners were honored for advancing the minimally invasive treatment of advanced coronary artery disease by inventing catheter-based devices to open blocked arteries.

Yock, who was the founding co-chair of the Department of Bioengineering, is known for his work inventing and testing new medical devices in the field of interventional cardiology. The Russ Prize honors two of his inventions: the Rapid Exchange stenting and balloon angioplasty system, which is now the primary system in use worldwide; and intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), a medical imaging technology.

The Rapid Exchange system simplified interventional cardiology procedures by replacing the “over-the-wire” approach that required two operators to manage an extremely long guidewire that stretched from the groin (the point of access) into the heart, and extended outside the body sufficiently to accommodate the catheter that would be threaded along its length.

Yock also invented the fundamental approach to IVUS, a high-resolution imaging technology that allows doctors to see inside arteries. IVUS not only made it possible to see the inside of the artery clearly, but ultimately provided a key insight into stenting, where a wire mesh is inserted to prop open a newly cleared artery.

Yock is sharing the 2019 Russ Prize with Julio Palmaz, Leonard Pinchuk, Richard Schatz and John Simpson. The prize is intended to help the public understand the contributions of engineers to health and well-being and to encourage collaboration between the engineering and medical/biological professions.

Read more on the Stanford Engineering website.