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MedTech POV with Scott Whitaker | Guest Derek Herrera, Marine Veteran injured in Afghanistan, Discusses His Journey, from the Battlefield to Supporting Veterans in MedTech and Becoming an Entrepreneur

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Derek Herrera, former Marine and current Board President of MedTechVets and Founder and CEO of Bright Uro, joined AdvaMed’s Scott Whitaker on the MedTech POV podcast to talk about his experiences, from his paralysis by a sniper’s bullet in Afghanistan to his subsequent career as a medtech entrepreneur, and what he sees for the future of the industry. As head of MedTechVets, Herrera works to connect transitioning servicemembers with opportunities to start a career in medtech and life sciences, and as an entrepreneur, he founded a company to develop a medical device driven by his own post-paralysis experience.

Herrera was deployed to Afghanistan, and during a patrol was shot by a sniper, whose bullet hit his spine and ultimately left him paralyzed from the chest down. He shared this story with Whitaker, explaining how the experience shaped much of the future work he would do. They went on to discuss Herrera’s difficult journey as a young entrepreneur, now armed with an MBA and an idea for a device sketched on a napkin—literally. Herrera went on to develop a urological device for men with urinary retention and founded a company called UroDev Medical. 

“While I was going through this journey,” Herrera said. “I asked myself a simple question, which was: ‘Of all the things I could choose to do, is there something that only I can do?’”  This question became the foundation for a future in MedTech as Herrera believed he could leverage his personal experience and struggles as a competitive advantage while designing products to address unmet needs for people just like him.  

Of the work MedTechVets does for returning servicemembers, Herrera said, “Right now we’re serving roughly 40 veterans a year and have incredible success with them gaining employment in medtech and the life-science industry. [I]t’s a really simple proposition, and we’ve been executing very well over the past few years…. We work to expand people’s network and give them a headstart so that they can find the job and they’re as competitive as any other applicants in the industry.” 

To listen to the episode, download the MedTech POV podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever podcast streaming is available. Visit AdvaMed’s website for more information on the podcast and past guests. 

The MedTech POV podcast is hosted by Scott Whitaker, President and CEO of AdvaMed, the world’s largest medical technology association. It premiered in April 2021 and has featured medtech and health care policy leaders such as Dr. Steven Hahn and General James Mattis. In each episode, guests and host Scott Whitaker cover the intersection of medtech and policy from every perspective, including current issues in business, policy, and current events. 

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AdvaMed member companies produce the medical devices, diagnostic products and health information systems that are transforming health care through earlier disease detection, less invasive procedures and more effective treatments. AdvaMed members range from the largest to the smallest medical technology innovators and companies. For more information, visit www.advamed.org.