Summer in Seattle: Cardiologists Gather in Town to Learn State-of-the-Art Treatment

The world’s leading pharmaceutical and medical device companies are going to be in town this week for a meeting known as Summer in Seattle, and they’re not just here to catch some scenery and sun.

The eighth annual conference, running Thursday through Sunday, is drawing 350 cardiologists, heart surgeons, radiologists, neurologists, and industry representatives from around the world to the Seattle Science Foundation to learn state-of-the-art techniques for treating diseased hearts. The list of sponsors, which runs 28 deep, says a lot about the importance of “thought leaders” who influence other doctors, and can therefore make or break a new technology. Natick, MA-based Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX), Abbott Laboratories, Pfizer, and Medtronic will be in town, vying to get their products in the doctors’ hands.

Summer in Seattle has traditionally featured live surgeries demonstrating technologies, such as insertion of drug-coated stents to prop open clogged arteries. This year, doctors will also get an unusual amount of hands-on work with cadavers and pig hearts to test new minimally-invasive devices designed, for example, to fix heart valves, said Mark Reisman, director of Cardiovascular Research and Education at Swedish Medical Center, and the conference’s co-director.

“This is very powerful for the companies to have people with national prominence to demonstrate their technologies,” Reisman says.

A couple of receptions are planned at the swanky W Hotel in downtown Seattle, but the doctors have a fair bit of time at the end of the day for wining and dining on their own. They are encouraged to get out and enjoy the city, but in terms of extra-curriculars, “We leave that up to the individuals,” Reisman says. No doubt those individuals will be courted well after-hours by the folks who want them to bless their technologies.

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