From the early days of software development to personalized cell and gene therapies, Cathy Burzik has witnessed a lot of technological evolution over the course of her 40-year career in the healthcare industry. She sat down with DeviceTalks’ former program manager Sarah Faulkner for an interview at AdvaMed’s The MedTech Conference this year, where she received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the field.
When Catherine Burzik accepted a job in 1974 at Kodak, her first assignment was to write software that would control cameras designed to keep tabs on Russia.
“This is way before software was even a field – you didn’t go to school for software engineering, but they were looking for people with critical thinking skills. I got to write the software that controlled the cameras, so I had to learn how to write assembler-level language software,” Burzik explained. “When I think about it, it was pretty fascinating to be on the start of a field.”
Years later, she was asked to join a secret project writing software for the very first clinical chemistry instrument.
“That’s what changed everything for me,” she said.
It was the beginning of Burzik’s wide-ranging 40-year career in healthcare. She went on to oversee the vital sign monitor franchise at Johnson & Johnson, as well as that company’s clinical lab and transfusion markets. She is perhaps most well-known for her stint as president & CEO of Kinetic Concepts. Under her leadership, the company inked a $1.7 billion deal to purchase tissue repair company LifeCell. Eventually, KCI was picked up for $6.1 billion by private equity firm Apax Partners.
Now, after working as a general partner at a venture capital firm, she serves on the board of several companies (large and small), helping to guide organizations through the changes that she sees emerging in healthcare.