FAER-Swimming with Sharks

It’s a shark of a different kind. Back by popular demand, ANESTHESIOLOGY 2019 will host the Saturday session “FAER-Swimming with Sharks: How Anesthesiologist Inventors Can Move Their Ideas Forward.”

Steven Shafer, M.D.

At this increasingly popular session, anesthesiologists present their big ideas and innovative pharmaceutical and medical devices to a panel of experts with a record of bringing such innovations to market. Steven Shafer, M.D., is Co-Founder of Aesculapius Systems, Pharsight, Signature Therapeutics at Stanford University and the lead speaker for the session. Dr. Shafer, who refers to himself as a “serial entrepreneurial failure,” will offer both humorous and practical advice to would-be entrepreneurs.

“You have to be delusional to be an innovator or a scientist. Most businesses fail, just as most scientific findings are negative,” Dr. Shafer said. “Quoting famed psychologist Daniel Kahnman, ‘I believe that someone who lacks a delusional sense of significance will wilt in the face of repeated experiences of multiple small failures and rare successes, the fate of most researchers.’”

FAER-Swimming with Sharks: How Anesthesiologist Inventors Can Move Their Ideas Forward

2:45–4:45 p.m.


Still, anesthesiology has a long history of innovation, entrepreneurship, and close interactions between academicians, private practitioners and industry to bring new concepts to the clinical arena and better care for our patients.

In order to educate others about the multiple steps involved and resources available to advance a product, Dr. Shafer will offer some sound advice during the session. He begins with, “Think very carefully about your proposal.” In particular, he advises entrepreneurs to consider the problem they are solving with their product, the market size, competition, patents, financing value and the future life of the product.

There are a host of other considerations, he said, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

“Time and money. Initially, it will take your time, and some of your money. Every step takes more time, and costs more, than any estimates,” said Dr. Shafer, who started his first company while he was in college and then several more companies in the years that followed, including software and medical informatics companies, a consulting business and a pharmaceutical company. Since 2014, he has advised a number of early-stage biotechnology companies. He limits his advice to medical and scientific support.

“My serial entrepreneurial failures suggest that they should get business advice from someone with a better track record,” Dr. Shafer said.

Swimming with Sharks was created in honor of the late Theodore Henry Stanley, M.D. He was an anesthesiologist with the University of Utah and a medical entrepreneur, who, with a colleague, invented the fentanyl lollipop to treat cancer pain.

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