40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Adam Epstein

Adam Epstein: 39

Vice President of Research & Development, Dielectrics Inc.

Adam Epstein can trace his career to a bet.

When his father dropped him off at the University of Rochester, they came across an “ambiguously worded” ad on campus for a job at an organ bank. His father, who had been through medical school, bet him $10 he couldn’t get the job. Adam won the bet.

“I was nucleating donated organs and skin from cadavers,” he said. “Frankly, I was fascinated by it, and I became interested in medicine. I was studying engineering, and I eventually got a business degree. So my career is an interesting combination of those three elements.”

He’s referring to his role at Dielectrics in Chicopee, where for eight years he has led development and commercialization efforts for numerous breakthrough medical devices, from an automatic CPR unit that increases the survival rate of cardiac-arrest patients to a device used to prevent radiation damage to healthy tissue during treatment of prostate cancer. Two of Epstein’s products — employed in laparoscopic surgery and hernia repair — have actually been used on other Dielectrics employees.

“I like solving problems, and that’s really what we do here,” he said of the contract development and manufacturing company. “We identify a clinical problem, and we try to solve it by the use of innovative technologies. When we get reports back from the field about how effective they have been for people, it gives me a great sense of satisfaction. I love it.”

He’s addressed needs in his wife’s native Ecuador as well, helping to fund and build an infirmary and library for a chain of orphanages in the capital of Quito, as well as sponsoring an English teacher for the elementary-school children.

“When we go back,” he said, “we see the benefits to the folks managing the orphanages and the children, and we appreciate being a part of that.”

In short, Epstein is devoted to identifying and solving critical problems — and it’s a safe bet he’ll continue to do so.

— Joseph Bednar