About Avinger / People

John B. Simpson
PhD MD

Dr. John Simpson has revolutionized the field of medicine through innovations that have fundamentally altered how physicians treat cardiovascular disease.

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Management Team

  • John B. Simpson PhD MD
    Chief Executive Officer
  • Arjun Desai MD
    Chief Medical Officer
  • Matt Ferguson
    Chief Business Officer
  • Bunty Banerjee
    SVP, Operations & R&D
  • Bart Beasley
    VP, Marketing
  • Patty Hevey
    VP, Clinical and Regulatory Affairs
  • Phil Preuss
    VP, Finance & Corporate Dev.
  • JD Simpson
    VP, Sales
  • Jim Twitchell
    VP, Quality Affairs
John B. Simpson PhD MD
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. John Simpson has revolutionized the field of medicine through innovations that have fundamentally altered how physicians treat cardiovascular disease.  He invented and commercialized the first over-the-wire balloon catheter used for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).  This single idea created the field of interventional cardiology as we know it today.  Dr. Simpson’s unique approach to patient care and the success of less invasive interventional techniques, specifically PTCA, have generated a multi-disciplinary shift in medicine as ophthalmologists, radiologists, cardiologists, neurologists and surgeons alike have adopted this technique.

Dr. Simpson has a unique ability to recognize unmet clinical needs, generate concepts to address these needs, and transform these concepts into clinically and commercially relevant products. Dr. Simpson has started several companies dedicated to providing patients with the most cutting-edge therapies in a variety of different areas, including directional atherectomy (coronary and peripheral), chronic total occlusions (CTOs), ultrasound, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, suture-mediated vascular closure, and local drug delivery.  His companies have sold for +$1.7 billion in aggregate, and include Advanced Cardiovascular Systems (sold to Eli Lilly in 1981 for stock on an earnout basis), Devices for Vascular Intervention (acquired by Eli Lilly in 1990), Perclose (purchased by Abbott in 1999), and FoxHollow Technologies (merged with ev3 in 2007).

Dr. Simpson received his PhD in Immunology from the University of Texas and his MD from Duke University.  He completed his fellowship in interventional cardiology at Stanford University.  Dr. Simpson is a member of the American College of Physicians and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He has published extensively on a wide variety of subjects and lectured throughout the world. 

Arjun Desai MD
Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Desai brings a variety of medical industry, health policy, and clinical academic experiences to Avinger. Initially joining Avinger as a consultant in 2009, Dr. Desai helped to direct and publish the pivotal CONNECT study, which successfully established FDA clearance for Avinger’s Wildcat and Kittycat CTO crossing catheters. After joining Avinger full time in 2012, Dr. Desai has expanded his focus to oversee health economics, reimbursement, clinical evidence generation, and scientific theory. In that time, Avinger has successfully published more than twenty manuscripts, clinical conference presentations, and case series. Most recently, Dr. Desai and his team successfully conducted and published the first ever peer reviewed Lumivascular manuscripts hallmarking a large European case series and the landmark CONNECT II clinical trial for the Ocelot catheter.      

Prior to Avinger, Dr. Desai served as a consultant and advisor for Incline Therapeutics, developing the IONSYS transdermal fentanyl delivery system. Additionally, Dr. Desai has consulted with pharmaceutical development targeting cancer therapeutics and healthcare IT development for capture of real time quality- metric assessment and implementation. Prior to management consulting, Dr. Desai served as a fellow in the US House Policy Committee, advising members of Congress on healthcare legislation. Additionally, Dr. Desai represented the US State Department and Rotary International as an Ambassador of Goodwill to Singapore where he led vaccine prophylaxis campaigns and lectured in the department of health economics at the National University of Singapore.

Dr. Desai maintains his clinical practice as adjunct faculty at Stanford University in the department of Anesthesia where he completed his advanced anesthesia residency training. Dr. Desai holds an M.D. from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma.  

Matt Ferguson
Chief Business Officer

Matt Ferguson joined Avinger in December 2010 with a successful track record in the management of growth-stage life sciences and technology businesses.

Prior to joining Avinger, he was the Chief Financial Officer of Tethys Bioscience, a provider of molecular diagnostic tests for cardiometabolic conditions. Prior to Tethys, he was the Chief Financial Officer of Proteolix, a developer of novel drugs for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. Proteolix was acquired in 2009 by Onyx Pharmaceuticals. Before Proteolix, Mr. Ferguson served as Chief Financial Officer at FoxHollow Technologies, where he was responsible for the company's 2004 initial public offering and played a significant role in the company's 2007 merger with ev3 inc. Earlier in his career, he held a variety of financial, corporate development and operational positions at ChannelPoint and Hewlett-Packard.  

Mr. Ferguson’s educational background includes a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Stanford University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Bunty Banerjee
SVP, Operations & R&D

As Senior Vice President of Operations and R&D, Bunty Banerjee brings 18 years of management experience in the life sciences industry, encompassing disposable devices and capital equipment. Before Avinger, Mr. Banerjee was Vice President of Operations & Quality at Evalve, Inc. where he provided operational leadership from clinical stage to product commercialization. Mr. Banerjee, as part of the leadership team, oversaw the acquisition of Evalve, Inc. by Abbott Laboratories in 2009 and lead the post-acquisition integration and business expansion as Head of Operations at Abbott Vascular, Structural Heart.

Prior to Evalve, Mr. Banerjee served as Plant Manager at Epicor, Inc. (a St. Jude Medical acquisition), holding general management responsibilities including operations, quality, product development, finance, human resources, and providing leadership in product commercialization and new product introductions. Before Epicor, Mr. Banerjee held several operations leadership positions at several newly-acquired, high-growth business units of Boston Scientific. Earlier in his career, Mr. Banerjee held various engineering positions at Crompton-Greaves, Caterpillar, and Larsen-Toubro.

Mr. Banerjee received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Jadavpur University, India and M.S. in Industrial Management from Clemson University, USA.

Bart Beasley
VP, Marketing

As Vice President of Marketing, Mr. Beasley is responsible for leading Avinger’s market-driven product development and marketing communications efforts. Mr. Beasley has 20 years of sales and marketing experience in roles of increasing responsibility in the medical device business, primarily focused on high-intensity early stage ventures. 

Prior to joining Avinger, Mr. Beasley drove all Market Development efforts at Transcend Medical, an early stage, breakthrough ophthalmic technology company revolutionizing the surgical treatment of glaucoma.  Before Transcend, Mr. Beasley served as Director of Marketing for FoxHollow Technologies (acquired by EV3) and helped to drive the explosive growth of both the company and peripheral atherectomy.  Prior to his role as director, Mr. Beasley gained extensive global field sales experience with the company.  Before FoxHollow, he spent 7 years with Perclose, Inc. (acquired by Abbott Vascular) in a variety of both Marketing and Finance roles.  

Mr. Beasley holds a BS in Economics from Santa Clara University and an MBA from IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain.

Patty Hevey
VP, Clinical and Regulatory Affairs

Ms. Hevey has over 14 years of experience in Clinical and Regulatory Affairs. Starting her medical career as a licensed Radiologic Technologist specializing in Cardiac Cath Lab and Mammography procedures, Patty transitioned into the medical device industry in 2000. 

Patty has held a variety of positions in Clinical Operations and Regulatory Affairs for a number of start-up companies primarily focused on the development of vascular technologies.  She has also designed and executed a number of clinical studies to support numerous regulatory clearances for medical device companies throughout her career, including the CONNECT II trial that was the basis of Ocelot’s FDA clearance in 2012. 

Patty holds a B.S. degree from George Washington University in Clinical Research Administration

Phil Preuss
VP, Finance & Corporate Dev.

As the Vice President of Finance and Corporate Development, Phil Preuss handles general business management, strategic operations and partnerships, and finance.

Mr. Preuss spent almost five years in New York City working in equity research, eventually becoming an Associate Director at UBS. During this time, he also supplemented his finance, accounting, and analytical skills by becoming a CFA charterholder. Following his MBA and prior to Avinger, he joined Foxhollow Technologies as a Senior Associate in Corporate Development, where he worked on internal strategic priorities and the exploration of external business opportunities.

Mr. Preuss holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. from Stanford University.

JD Simpson
VP, Sales

Mr. Simpson has held a variety of roles at Avinger in both commercial and general management positions, prior to becoming the Vice President of Sales. Most recently, he has served as Avinger's Co-President where he was responsible for Avinger's strategic direction, Sales and Marketing, Research and Development, Clinical, Regulatory and Quality.

In addition, Mr. Simpson held the position of Chief Marketing Officer at Avinger. As the Chief Marketing Officer, Mr. Simpson was responsible for general business management and oversaw Avinger’s Marketing activities including strategic and operational execution.

Mr. Simpson currently serves on Avinger’s Board of Directors, and is also a Founder of Recreation, Inc. Recreation is a full service creative, digital and media agency focused on brand strategy and implementation for life changing innovations. 

Prior to joining Avinger, Mr. Simpson worked at FoxHollow Technologies and Palo Alto Investors, an independent, privately held investment advisor.

Mr. Simpson holds a B.A. in Sociology from Duke University.

Jim Twitchell
VP, Quality Affairs

Mr. Twitchell has over 26 years of experience in Quality Assurance in the Medical Device Industry with functional responsibility for Quality Assurance at facilities ranging from small start-ups through manufacturing facilities with 1,500 employees. 

Prior to joining Avinger in September 2011, he was Corporate Director of Supply Chain Quality Assurance for Boston Scientific Corporation, in Natick, MA, developing and implementing innovative Supplier Quality programs with a Risk Based balance between compliance and cost.  Prior to that, Jim spent 4 years at Boston Scientific’s Miami Florida facility where he was the Plant Director of Quality Assurance, and fulfilled a similar role at Boston Scientific’s Bay Area facilities in California. 

From 1988 through 1998 Mr. Twitchell held positions of increasing responsibility in the Medical Device industry in Quality Assurance on both coasts.  He has extensive experience and knowledge in the manufacture and design assurance for single use sterile medical devices.

Mr. Twitchell is a graduate of General Electrics Technical Education Operations Manufacturing Leadership program, a Certified Quality Engineer from the American Society for Quality, and an accredited Quality System Auditor. 

Board of Directors

  • John B. Simpson PhD MD
    Chief Executive Officer
  • Kenneth M. Novack
    Chairman of the Board
  • Donald A. Lucas
    Board Member
  • James McElwee
    Board Member
  • James Muzzy
    Board Member
  • JD Simpson
    VP, Sales
John B. Simpson PhD MD
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. John Simpson has revolutionized the field of medicine through innovations that have fundamentally altered how physicians treat cardiovascular disease.  He invented and commercialized the first over-the-wire balloon catheter used for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).  This single idea created the field of interventional cardiology as we know it today.  Dr. Simpson’s unique approach to patient care and the success of less invasive interventional techniques, specifically PTCA, have generated a multi-disciplinary shift in medicine as ophthalmologists, radiologists, cardiologists, neurologists and surgeons alike have adopted this technique.

Dr. Simpson has a unique ability to recognize unmet clinical needs, generate concepts to address these needs, and transform these concepts into clinically and commercially relevant products. Dr. Simpson has started several companies dedicated to providing patients with the most cutting-edge therapies in a variety of different areas, including directional atherectomy (coronary and peripheral), chronic total occlusions (CTOs), ultrasound, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, suture-mediated vascular closure, and local drug delivery.  His companies have sold for +$1.7 billion in aggregate, and include Advanced Cardiovascular Systems (sold to Eli Lilly in 1981 for stock on an earnout basis), Devices for Vascular Intervention (acquired by Eli Lilly in 1990), Perclose (purchased by Abbott in 1999), and FoxHollow Technologies (merged with ev3 in 2007).

Dr. Simpson received his PhD in Immunology from the University of Texas and his MD from Duke University.  He completed his fellowship in interventional cardiology at Stanford University.  Dr. Simpson is a member of the American College of Physicians and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He has published extensively on a wide variety of subjects and lectured throughout the world. 

Kenneth M. Novack
Chairman of the Board

Ken Novack is the former Chairman of Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. (NASDQ:SCHN) which is engaged in the metals recycling, steel manufacturing and auto parts business.  He is also the former Chairman of Lasco Shipping Co and Liberty Maritime Corp., both ocean shipping concerns and of Schnitzer Investment Corp., a real estate development and investment firm.  He was a partner in the law firm of Ball, Janik & Novack from 1982-1991.  

In addition to Avinger, Mr. Novack serves on the board of Schnitzer Steel Industries, Schnitzer Investment Corp., Genesis Financial Corp., Eisenhower Medical Center (Rancho Mirage, CA), Kravis Leadership Institute, The Lowe Institute for Political Economy and Claremont McKenna College.

 Mr. Novack holds a B.A. degree cum laude from Claremont McKenna College and a J.D. degree (Order of the Coif) from the University of Southern California.

Donald A. Lucas
Board Member

Donald A. Lucas is a second generation venture capitalist who grew up in an environment steeped in the entrepreneurial spirit in Silicon Valley. He has spent his entire professional career focused on investing in private companies, working with entrepreneurs and their management teams, leveraging his vast network to create value throughout all stages of investments. Don’s father, Donald L. Lucas was one of the first practicing venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. Don worked alongside his father for more than a decade as an associate and private investor. In 1993 Don founded the RWI group of funds and then in 2007, Lucas Venture Group, with an investment focus spanning Mobile Internet, Social Commerce/Networking and Backhaul Transmission Technologies.  Don’s current investments at Lucas Venture Group include Avinger, Chegg, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHGG), Leeo, Inc., Liquidspace, Inc., Mightybell, Palantir Technologies, Inc., Reverb, Inc., Theranos, TouchOfModern and Vorstack Corporation.

Don’s past investments include Advanced Fibre Communications, acquired by Tellabs Inc. (NASDAQ: TLAB), BlueArc Corporation (acquired by Hitachi Data Systems Sept. 2011), Business Objects (NASDAQ: BOBJY) acquired by SAP, Cadence Design (NASDAQ: CDNS), Dexcom, Inc. (NASDAQ: DXCM), eSilicon Corporation, Force10 Networks (acquired by Dell Aug. 2011), Infinera Corporation (NASDAQ: INFN), Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ: ISRG), Khimetrics (acquired by SAP), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), and Macromedia, acquired by Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE). 

James McElwee
Board Member

James McElwee currently operates as an independent venture capitalist in Northern California with more than 30 years of experience in institutional venture capital and private equity.

Mr. McElwee joined Weston Presidio as its third General Partner in 1992 serving until 2010. He was reponsible for Weston Presidio's private investments in Digital Theater Systems (NASDAQ: DTSI), RedEnvelope (NASDAQ: REDE), Vitria Technology (NASDAQ: VITR), Wild Oats Markets (NASDAQ: OATS), IC Works (acquired by Cypress Semiconductor), and Sassaby (Jane) (acquired by Estee Lauder). Mr. McElwee opened the firm's Menlo Park Office in 2000. 

Prior to Weston Presidio, Mr. McElwee was Senior Vice President of the Security Pacific Venture Capital Group and the founding Managing Director of its Menlo Park office. During his 13 years with the Security Pacific Venture Capital Group, Mr. McElwee was responsible for early investments in Costco, Universal Health Services, Cypress Semiconductor, Aspect Telecommunications, Xilinx, MIPS Computer Systems, Harmonic, Microchip, Vitesse and many others. Prior to entering the venture capital industry in 1979, Mr. McElwee was a Senior Consultant with Accenture working on a variety of clients in the retailing, healthcare and technology industries.

In addition to Avinger, Mr. McElwee currently serves on the Board of Directors of Silego Technology, a semiconductor company headquartered in Santa Clara.  He also serves on the Board of Trustees of SFJAZZ, the non-profit organization responsible for the San Francisco Jazz Festival. 

Mr. McElwee earned his B.A. from Claremont McKenna College where he serves on the Board of Trustees and is Chairman of the Financial Economics Institute.

He earned his M.B.A. from the Wharton Graduate School of Business where he serves on the Wharton Entrepreneurial Advisory Board.

James Muzzy
Board Member

James F. Muzzy is the retired Co-Founder and Managing Director of PIMCO in Newport Beach, California.

Mr. Muzzy co-founded PIMCO in 1971, and in his 38 year career with the firm, he helped create and build what has become widely recognized as the world’s leading fixed income investment management company, managing more than $2 trillion in fixed income assets for governments, foundations, institutions, and individuals worldwide. In 2009, he retired from PIMCO and started his own investment firm, MZ Partners, to manage his personal investments.

Prior to his success with PIMCO, Mr. Muzzy worked as an Industrial Engineer at Owens-Illinois. After 3 years in the field, he decided to pursue a new career path, and took a position as an Investment Advisor with Dean Witter, followed by Investment Trust Officer at Security Pacific National Bank.

Mr. Muzzy grew up in Tucson, Arizona and attended the University of Arizona from 1958-1963, where he received his BSBA and MBA degrees. He is a Charter Financial Analysis, CFA and a Chartered Investment Counselor, CIC.

He is currently active on two Boards, Bixby Land Company and Avinger. He is also an Emeritus of the Board for the Orange County Museum of Art and is a member of the University of Arizona's Eller College of Business, National Advisory Board.

Mr. Muzzy has been married to his wife, Pamela, for the past 49 years. They have three married sons and 7 grandchildren, and all reside in California.

JD Simpson
VP, Sales

Mr. Simpson has held a variety of roles at Avinger in both commercial and general management positions, prior to becoming the Vice President of Sales. Most recently, he has served as Avinger's Co-President where he was responsible for Avinger's strategic direction, Sales and Marketing, Research and Development, Clinical, Regulatory and Quality.

In addition, Mr. Simpson held the position of Chief Marketing Officer at Avinger. As the Chief Marketing Officer, Mr. Simpson was responsible for general business management and oversaw Avinger’s Marketing activities including strategic and operational execution.

Mr. Simpson currently serves on Avinger’s Board of Directors, and is also a Founder of Recreation, Inc. Recreation is a full service creative, digital and media agency focused on brand strategy and implementation for life changing innovations. 

Prior to joining Avinger, Mr. Simpson worked at FoxHollow Technologies and Palo Alto Investors, an independent, privately held investment advisor.

Mr. Simpson holds a B.A. in Sociology from Duke University.

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