Robert Rabiner – Fast 50 2003


Scientists were skeptical that low-power acoustic energy could break up blood clots–until Robert Rabiner and the team at OmniSonics showed otherwise. Their device designed to use low-power acoustic energy to turn blood clots into tiny particles and restore blood flow is now in clinical trials. The World Economic Forum recognized Rabiner as a “Tech Pioneer” of 2003 for his radical and transformational technology.


Robert Rabiner
Cofounder, president, and CEO
OmniSonics Medical Technologies Inc.
Wilmington, Massachusetts


Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does) and the specific challenge you faced.
In 1998, when OmniSonics was in fundraising mode, venture capital flowed primarily to Internet start-ups. No one wanted to finance a medical device company. But CEO Robert Rabiner and inventor Bradley Hare shrugged off these challenges when they saw the miracles that a specially crafted piece of titanium wire–powered by acoustic energy–could perform with blood clots. In just moments, this device could bust up all types of clots into harmless micro-particles the size of red blood cells. In sight was a billion-dollar market to treat conditions like deep vein thrombosis and coronary artery disease. But to gain market entry, OmniSonics first had to prove that their device worked safely with people as well as animals. Ample funding was required to finance clinical trials. And even upon securing regulatory clearance, more money would be needed to launch the product in markets as diverse as Germany, Australia and the U.S.

What was your moment of truth?
Scientists previously thought that ultrasonic energy could not effectively break up blood clots, or thrombus. At Rabiner and Hare’s initial demonstrations, those who understood the revolutionary implications of OmniWave’s technology were stunned. Some even thought the demonstration broke fundamental laws of physics until a closer look convinced them the science was solid. The first human procedure for the lower leg was an astounding success. The Australian patient suffered from a 40-cm long chronic blood clot, and was a candidate for amputation. In an eight-minute treatment, OmniSonics’ device delivered low-power acoustic energy to the thrombus, breaking it into particles about the size of red blood cells, restoring flow, and saving the man’s leg. Before this, the technology had been demonstrated in animals. Now, it’s potential for helping the millions of people worldwide suffering from lower limb blood clots (ischemia) and potentially tens of millions of other patients became a discernable reality. The technology was recently made commercially available in Europe and clinical trials are ongoing in the U.S. OmniSonics expects initial U.S. regulatory approval in 2003. From lower limb ischemia to deep vein thrombosis to coronary artery disease to stroke, the potential applications for OmniWave technology are vast. (The exact date? 9/1/2002)

What were the results?
One man’s leg was saved and the potential for this technology was realized. With Rabiner at the helm and Hare directing technology, OmniSonics raised $26.7 million and expects OmniWave technology to have broad applications in cardiovascular diseases. The Company is currently conducting clinical trials in the United States. The first product has received a CE Mark to start European marketing and eight patents have been granted with 42 pending. The World Economic Forum has just recognized Rabiner as one of 40 “Technology Pioneers” of 2003 for his work co-founding OmniSonics and this “Radical and Transformational” technology.

What’s your parting tip?
When William Harvey discovered blood circulation he was ostracized. Scientists must build, prove and execute technology for progress.