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John Eaton Abele, 1959
Doctor of Humane Letters
John Abele is the retired founding chairman of the Boston Scientific Corporation, a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of medical devices. He has also served on the Amherst College Board of Trustees and established a private family philanthropy, The Argosy Foundation.
Abele majored in physics and philosophy at Amherst. He graduated in 1959 and went on to work for Advanced Instruments, Inc., before serving as president of MEDITECH (Medical Information Technology, Inc.) from 1970 to 1983.
Abele co-founded Boston Scientific with Peter Nicholas in 1979, with the goal of developing technologies to make medical procedures less invasive and more affordable. Innovations such as angioplasty and valvuloplasty balloons and a paclitaxel-eluting coronary stent system have propelled Boston Scientific onto the Forbes Global 2000 list of the world’s leading companies. Abele holds many patents and has published and lectured extensively on medical technology and the trends and issues affecting health care. His major interests are science literacy of children, education and the process by which new technology is invented, developed and introduced to society.
Abele was an Amherst College Trustee from 1997 to 2003, and his Argosy Foundation made a grant to establish the college’s Center for Community Engagement, which opened in 2007. He is also the founder of Canada’s Kingbridge Conference Centre & Institute and vice chairman of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). He is a Fellow in the Society of Interventional Radiology and the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering and has won awards from numerous other medical societies.
In 1942, when Abele was 5 years old, his father, Lt. Cmdr. Mannert L. Abele, went missing when the USS Grunion was sunk near the Alaskan island of Kiska. Some 60 years later, the family learned of the submarine’s fate, and John Abele assembled a team who, using a crab boat and sonar to scan the ocean floor, successfully located the wreckage in 2006, thereby providing some closure for his own family and the families of the 69 other men who perished onboard.
Listen to Conversations with Honored Guests, talks by honorary degree recipients.