Richard Caruso, founder and chairman of Integra LifeSciences Corp. (Plainsboro, NJ), considered one of the pioneers of regenerative medicine, has been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Caruso was named both the overall winner and the health sciences national winner in November 2006 at a ceremony in Palm Springs, CA.
After a 20-year career in finance, Caruso decided to pursue something that would benefit mankind. He partnered with two medical researchers who were working on an extracellular matrix technology, financing laboratory and manufacturing facilities and hiring a sales team. The result, Integra Artificial Skin, allowed burn victims to regenerate new skin and was one of the first tissue-engineering products approved by FDA. Integra has taken its regenerative technology into other fields, developing the DuraGen, which allows the protective covering of the brain to regenerate itself after surgery, and NeuroGen, which allows severed peripheral nerves to be regenerated.
Integra now sells products in more than 100 countries. It has annual revenues of almost $400 million and boasts a market capitalization of $1.2 billion.