Ventures of the heart

By Heather Maurer
Vital Signs » Fall 2014
photo of the cannons

Louis A. Cannon, M.D. '84, leads the way in cardiac, orthopaedic device innovation

After graduating from Wittenberg University in 1980, Louis Cannon was faced with a life-altering choice—work in the family furniture sales business or pursue a career in medicine.

Cannon chose the latter and enrolled in medical school at Wright State University. “I was not sure I wanted to be a doctor. But I always wanted to help people,” said Cannon, who is now recognized as one of the top 100 cardiovascular specialists in the United States. “I always wanted to be in control of my own destiny.”

He fell in love with the science of medicine and being able to help patients in their greatest time of need. “Looking back, I wouldn’t change it at all,” said Cannon, who is originally from the Boston area but moved to Bexley, Ohio, near Columbus during eighth grade.

His residency training in internal and emergency medicine at Akron General Medical Center in Akron, Ohio, led him to the field of cardiology. “I learned that what I was best at was taking care of patients during their greatest time of need. What more critical time than when they were having a heart attack?” said Cannon, whose current research focuses on drugs that reduce blockages from forming inside heart stents and the use of ultrasound to open blockages that are completely obstructed.

After his combined internal and emergency medicine residency, he completed fellowships in invasive and interventional cardiology at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He and his wife, Sally, moved to Michigan, where he began his career as a cardiologist. “We came to Michigan because we fell in love with the beauty of Michigan,” said Cannon, who credits his wife and three grown children with being very understanding of his demanding schedule. “I started a research center and became engulfed in cardiac research.”

Cannon, who is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, and interventional cardiology, is past president and founder of The Michigan CardioVascular Institute (MCVI) in Saginaw. In 2004, he accepted a position as the program director of the Northern Michigan Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute.

He also serves as president of the Cardiac & Vascular Research Center of Northern Michigan and is the senior program director of McLaren Northern Michigan Heart and Vascular Institute. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Chest Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Angiology, the American Association of Emergency Physicians, and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions.

Cannon, who has published hundreds of abstracts, manuscripts, textbook chapters and editorials—including 10 in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine—has more than two decades of clinical trial experience using cutting-edge technologies to treat cardiovascular disease. In 2003, he founded BioStar Ventures, a venture capital investment fund focusing on cutting-edge innovation in medical devices based in Petoskey, Michigan. Through this venture capital partnership created by physicians and business leaders, Cannon has participated in the start up and development of several developing biotechnological or emerging health care companies. BioStar Ventures is on its third fund, earmarked for $100 million in international investments in cardiovascular and orthopaedic diseases.

He was inspired to start BioStar Ventures during an angioplasty, a non-surgical procedure used to open narrow or blocked arteries. As he was trying to open a blocked artery by inflating a balloon in the artery, causing low blood flow itself downstream, he thought there must be an easier way. So, he developed a device called the “Hemo-Cannon” as a method of pushing blood flow through the catheter to oxygenate tissue downstream from the balloon. “Physicians who are involved in device innovation and integration have a leg up because we can see what the patient needs and what the physician needs,” said Cannon, who has been inducted into Who’s Who in American and World Wide Medicine and has served on the board of governors of the Michigan Chapter of the American College of Cardiology.

One of his best friends from medical school, Alan Davis, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, serves as a medical venture partner and advisor with BioStar Ventures. “He is my thought leader, friend, and trusted partner in regards to insight into orthopaedic devices,” said Cannon, who also serves on advisory boards for several Fortune 500 companies, including Medtronic, Abbott, and Boston Scientific. “That just speaks to the friendships and the quality of people you meet at medical school.”

Cannon, who has two U.S. medical device patents, credits Wright State with inspiring his interest in intellectual property and product development. He learned counseling techniques and saw some innovative engineering that was being done with paralyzed patients. All of that left an impression on him.

“Wright State was less traditional. It was more patient-focused,” said Cannon, who was recognized in March 2014 by Wright State with an outstanding alumni award. “It was OK to think outside the box. It was OK to be different. We were encouraged to be creative.”

Last edited on 09/22/2015.