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Medical Devices

“Our FDA approval of the first next-generation sequencing-based test designed to expedite targeted therapy selection for non-small cell lung cancer patients from weeks to a few days speaks to the value of having a presence in the San Diego region. This breakthrough test is the result of our collaboration with San Diego’s Pfizer group in an effort to drive genomics-based precision medicine.”

Mark Stevenson, President of Life Sciences Solutions, Thermo Fisher Scientific
June 26, 2017

The medical device industry is an important component of San Diego’s burgeoning life sciences cluster. More than 30 years ago, scientists out of UC San Diego founded Hybritech, a company that produced one of the first diagnostic tests for prostate cancer. The company’s acquisition by Eli Lilly in 1986 for $400 million made it one of the region’s early success stories, and catalyst for a subsequent influx of startup investors. 
Since that time, San Diego’s medical device ecosystem has rapidly expanded, with products and technologies spanning a wide range of applications including diagnostics, sleep aids, glucose monitors, and spinal implants, to name a few. Noteworthy tradeshows in the industry have started to call San Diego home, including the 2016 MeDevice Forum, 2017 10X Medical Device Conference, and the 2017 BIO International Convention.

Industry Highlights & Contributions

  • Economic impact: Carlsbad has a robust medical device industry, accounting for 6 percent of all employment in the area and around 4,000 jobs.1
  • Life saver: Local company Aethlon Medical produces a device known as the Hemopurifier. Featuring a single-use, disposable cartridge that filters blood, the technology treats Ebola and is credited for having saved the life of a Ugandan physician infected with the disease in 2014.2
  • Shedding pounds: Medical device applications run the gamut in San Diego. Local company Obalon produces the Obalon 3-Balloon System that helps facilitate weight loss by taking up space in your stomach. Obalon became a publicly traded company in October 2016.3
  • Unique degree: In response to local demand, UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering launched the Masters in Medical Device Engineering in 2011. The program is one of the few of its kind in the country.

Key Companies 

  • ACON Laboratories
  • BD
  • Dexcom
  • Illumina
  • NuVasive
  • NOVO Engineering 
  • ResMed
  • Tandem Diabetes Care, Inc.
  • Volcano Corporation
  • Zimmer Dental



Biocom is the largest regional life sciences association in the world and represents more than 825 member companies. 

San Diego Biotechnology Network

San Diego Biotechnology Network was founded in 2008 with the goal of providing high quality, face to face networking among professionals working directly in the biotech space. 

San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange

SDEE supports new companies in the life sciences and technology fields, and sponsors networking and educational events. 


1. BW Research Partnership, “The Medical Devices Industry in Carlsbad”, 2013 2.Mass Device, “Aethlon’s blood filtration device as broad countermeasure for infectious diseases”, 2015 3. FierceBiotech, “Obalon Therapeutics launches $75M IPO for ingestible weight loss balloon”, 2016