@UCSD: An Alumni Publication

An Alumni Publication   Archive vol1no3 Contact
Up Front: Letters to and from the editor
Campus Currents: UCSD Stories
Shelf Life: Books
Cliff Notes: Student life and sports
Class Notes: Alumni profiles
Campaign Update: Imagine the Future
Looking Back: Thoughts on UCSD
Credits: Staff and Contributors
Distant Diagnosis
To Play or Not to Play
The Modern Campus
The College Bond
Making Waves
Launch Party Photos
Fish, Fireworks & Fizz
Bye-Bye Bottlenecks
Three Million Volumes
Smart Dust
Geisel Goes Walking

Capital Campaign

What's Next
Q & A with Erik T. Engelson

Erik T. Engelson
Erik T. Engelson. Photo: Jim Block Photography

Erik T. Engelson, ’82, M.S. ’84, says he doesn’t know what’s next, but based on his past achievements, chances are you or someone you know will benefit from whatever he’s involved in. The 44-year-old alumnus holds patents on more than 45 medical devices, many of them issued while he was with Target Therapeutics, a Bay-area medical device company. Many of those patents led to medical devices that helped define the practice of minimally invasive brain surgery and opened up the field of interventional neuroradiology.

Today, Engelson is chief financial officer of Fluidigm Corporation, a privately held biotechnology company in San Francisco. Fluidigm has commercialized high-tech tools that aid drug discovery and development. In addition, Engelson co-founded an interventional cardiology company, FlowCardia, Inc. that is clinically testing a catheter-based device used to open completely blocked coronary arteries so that these patients can be treated by minimally invasive means rather than by surgery.

Engelson earned his B.A. in microbiology and his M.S. in bioengineering at UCSD. As an active alumni volunteer, he galvanized fund-raising efforts to build an endowment for a graduate student lounge at the new Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall. He was named Jacobs School Alumnus of the Year in 1999, and is a UC San Diego Foundation trustee.

Q. You’ve said you experienced your intellectual awakening at UCSD. Can you describe it?
A. UCSD was the perfect place for me: an entrepreneurial, can-do, inquisitive, spirited environment—and all of that set in paradise. Everything about it resonated so well with me. I was challenged in ways that led me to discover depths and abilities within myself that I didn’t know existed.

Q. You can work with any organization you want. Why UCSD?
A. UCSD was such a turning point for me in my life. While there, I was cognizant of what it was doing for me. I remember thinking, “If and when I have the means, I want to give back.” In my later undergraduate and graduate years I had a Chancellor’s Associates grant and I remember thinking that I needed to somehow pay this back so that this kind of support could help others.

Q. What’s next for you?
A. I’ve never had a master plan so it’s hard to say what’s next. I’ve been so fortunate to have had these opportunities pop up before me and to have chosen well.
I find myself interested in everything.
I like helping to start and grow companies. I like to go sailing. I like helping UCSD. My challenge is that everything is so interesting, and there’s not enough time to do it all. I have a daughter, and spending time with her is top priority and top joy.

"UCSD was the perfect place for me: an entrepreneurial, can-do, inquisitive, spirited environment—and all of that set in paradise."