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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