Stephen Quinn, Biotech and Medical Device Entrepreneur, Dies Suddenly at 46

Xconomy Seattle — 

Xconomy is sad to report that Stephen Quinn, an emerging biotech and medical device entrepreneur in the Northwest, died suddenly at his home in Redmond, WA, on Sunday. He was 46.

The cause of death is unknown. Paramedics found Quinn at home on Sunday afternoon with no pulse, and rushed him to Overlake Hospital Medical Center, where doctors were unable to revive him, says Buddy Ratner, a University of Washington bioengineering professor. Ratner has collaborated with Quinn to start five local biomedical companies over the past three years.

“It’s a tragedy,” Ratner says. “I’m devastated.”

Quinn joined Ratner Biomedical Group in July 2006, after spending the previous nine years at Microsoft as a test manager in the SQL Server Business Intelligence Unit, according to his LinkedIn profile. Along with Ratner, Quinn played a founding role in starting Healionics, Calcionics, Inson Medical Systems, Ratner Biomedical Inc., and the latest spinoff company, Beat Biotherapeutics.

The news comes as a shock to me personally, because I spoke with Quinn at length over the phone just a couple weeks ago when I profiled BeatBio, a company that aims to make make stem cells to repair damaged heart tissue. Quinn sounded full of optimism that his new company had potential to treat millions of people with heart failure. He had found a creative way to support the company through a partnership with Bellevue, WA-based Hope Heart Institute, which he thought would help the company reach milestones needed to get venture capital in the future. He understood how difficult a stem cell company would be, and even told me at the time, “Somebody’s got to be crazy enough to take stem cell therapies to the market.”

“He felt life was a little tame at Microsoft, and at his age, he wanted bigger challenges,” Ratner says. “He had a fine job, but he wasn’t that excited about it. He became quite excited about the opportunities he saw being an entrepreneur.”

Greg Mahairas, an immunologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who was collaborating with Quinn on BeatBio, says he’s still shocked by the news after he had dinner with Quinn to talk about their business plan a week ago.

“We had big plans, and he saw big potential,” Mahairas says. “He was always positive about things, and saw potential everywhere.”

Quinn is survived by his wife and three children. The family requests no flowers, although a memorial service is being scheduled for 6 pm on Thursday, with a location yet to be determined, Ratner said.

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9 responses to “Stephen Quinn, Biotech and Medical Device Entrepreneur, Dies Suddenly at 46”

  1. Christopher Somogyi says:

    Stephen was creative, confident, very much a can-do entrepreneur. He was amazing at bringing people together around one of many start-ups affiliated with Ratner Biomedical Group. He pulled it all together and launched all the companies against some stiff odds. Seattle has lost someone who had been working tirelessly to make a difference and to lift medical innovation to new levels.

  2. Susannah MalarkeySusannah Malarkey says:

    Chris said it very well–Stephen was such a positive force and really believed in the possibilities. He worked with unflagging optimism and energy to grow innovative companies aimed at human healing. He will be sorely missed. We at the Technology Alliance and the Alliance of Angels program–in which he was a member before joining the Ratner Group–feel very sad but also very grateful to have been associated with him.

  3. When the news of Stephen Quinn’s passing, Monday night’s Jon Stewart show’s first segment touch my heart, as it will for all that knew Stephen:

    “Not a good weekend folks, apparently everyone who has ever meant anything to anyone passed away this weekend. We are apparently alone and left with no cultural touchstones and only questions.”

    Four years ago I first met Stephen Quinn furthering his quest to understand new technology and help support its development and commercialization. Since then the Seattle area, and over time, the world at large will long remember Stephen for his visionary leadership in moving proven science from the laboratories of Dr. Ratner and other key researchers in our community, presenting this work as commercial opportunities, and helping create five biotech companies in just three years.

    Was also blessed to known Stephen as a friend and see his devotion as a husband to Katherine and as a father to his three children; with special care for his oldest daughter Anastasia, as she adjusted to two new young sisters arriving into their growing family.

    Sincere condolences to Stephen’s loved ones. He will be truly missed by those that knew him well.

  4. Memorial Service – Thursday July 2nd 7 PM

    Good Samaritan Episcopal Church
    1757 244th Avenue NE
    Sammamish, WA 98074
    425 868-2123

    DOORS OPEN AT: 6:00 PM

  5. Sechrest Family says:

    Stephen was an amazing person and he will be both missed and remembered by a wide circle of people. He had a basic optimism and enthusiasm which fed his entrepeneurship. He was truly excited about the medical technologies that underlay these startup companies, excited about their potential to change people’s lives for the better, even to save those lives. We are shocked to find him gone and we hurt for his family, but we will remember him fondly.

  6. JK Nair says:

    A born leader, Stephen’s biggest asset perhaps was his “Emotional Quotient”: he knew the dynamics of Decision Making Frameworks of the people he met and hence was great at gelling different perspectives together to make an efficient, laser focused team out of a group of individuals. He did that to great effect at Microsoft SQL Server BI team. He could bring the best out of each individual, and was very charismatic and full of optimism. An entrepreneur who always dreamed big and was never afraid of taking rational risks, the sagacious snippets of wisdom he has shared with me over the years will remain a guiding factor forever in my life.

  7. Buddy RatnerBuddy Ratner says:

    Courage comes in many forms, but by any standards Stephen Quinn was a courageous individual — taking risks to make things happen, not with one enterprise but 5 of them! He was simply “charged” about the possibilities – to help people in so many areas of medicine, to create jobs, to build value; and to evolve new and exiting ways to do these things, where all the players: investors, colleagues, employees, patients, and family, shared in the good.
    So, there you have it – energy, creativity, vision, leadership, courage, concern for his fellow travelers in this life’s journey.
    Stephen, you will be missed.

  8. Anastasia Quinn says:

    Reading these comments about my father more than a year later inspires me,from reading about his positive attitude to how he brought out the best in his colleagues makes me proud to be his daughter,and i deeply appreciate being able to acknowledge all of these wonderful reviews over a year later.