Alfred Mann, physicist, inventor and founder of biotech company Mannkind has one focus–Mankind.
At the age of 88, Mann still works 70 hour weeks, and is on a quest of a lifetime to eradicate as many terrible conditions and possible. His most recent drug, Afrezza, is insulin that can be inhaled by diabetics, who no longer need to use needles. Sanofi Aventis paid Mannkind $925 million for marketing rights, plus 35% of profits.
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Mann doesn’t give up on his projects and has a single-minded dedication. When a bionic eye he invented showed structural problems, Mann did not rest until it was not only solved, but got the approval of the FDA in 2013. The Second Sight Argus II System was a prosthetic retina that allowed some formerly blind people to see for the first time in their lives.
Mann was born and raised in Portland Oregon. He was raised in a Jewish family, with a father from England and a mother from Poland. He started businesses as a young man and was successful selling them. At first, he developed military companies, but after his father died of a heart attack, Mann developed Pacesetter Systems, which would become the country’s number two supplier of pacemakers. He saw how many heart patients also suffered from diabetes, and created MiniMed, a small insulin pump. Mann sold Pacesetter to Siemens in 1985 for $150 million and MiniMed to Medtronics for $3 billion in 2001. Mann sold his Advanced Bionics, which created cochlear implants to help the deaf hear to Boston Scientific for $740 plus unspecified future payments.
“I’m trying to help people. How else would I have been able to work until I’m almost 90 if I didn’t have something to motivate me?”