DAA Award Winner: Dennis W. Wahr, '74
After ending the 20th century as a highly regarded cardiologist, Dennis Wahr is beginning the 21st century as an equally successful entrepreneur. His expertise in medical device development, the management of multicenter international clinical studies, and product commercialization is evident in his current role as president and chief executive officer of his third medical device company, Holaira, Inc. Holaira is dedicated to the development of products to treat lung diseases. The company’s first product in development is a novel catheter-based system that may improve lung function, exercise capacity, and quality of life for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In 2001, Wahr became co-founder, president, and CEO of Velocimed, which developed and clinically tested three innovative products to treat cardiovascular disease prior to the company being acquired and commercialized by St. Jude Medical in 2005. Wahr then co-founded and served as president and CEO of Lutonix, which developed a unique drug-coated balloon angioplasty technology for the treatment and prevention of vascular stenosis (narrowing) caused by atherosclerosis. Wahr sold the company after four years to leading medical device manufacturer C.R. Bard, Inc. The Lutonix device has been approved for sale in Europe and is expected to be available soon to U.S. patients.
Wahr’s desire to serve patients through improving technology grew from his 15 years working as an interventional cardiologist. He also was director of
interventional cardiology and chief of cardiology at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor. He is a graduate of Wayne State University’s School of Medicine.
An Athletic Hall of Fame inductee for individual and team achievement, league medalist Wahr led the Britons to a 1972 MIAA golf championship. He was also an honorable mention All-MIAA basketball selection and the team’s Most Valuable Player during the 1973-74 season. Wahr was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity at
He and his wife, Joyce, live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and are the parents of Alexa, Christine, and Jennifer.
DAA Award Winner: Norma J. Taber, '78
Airline passengers today fly with fewer delays, thanks to the air traffic management systems Norma Taber has helped design. Taber has spent 30 years with the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit research and development organization trusted for its impartiality in working with the Federal Aviation Administration, current air traffic management operations, and academic researchers. As a lead systems engineer, working with various government, industry, and academic researchers, Taber has contributed to improvements in air traffic operations including tools for assessing the impact of changing a flight’s route or altitude, planning air traffic flows, and collaborative decision-making for rerouting or delaying flights. Currently, Taber is working with a research team developing concepts and algorithms for what will be the next generation of departure flow management systems.
Throughout her professional career, Taber has taken a special interest in encouraging women to pursue careers in engineering. Just four years after graduating from Albion, Taber established the Norma J. Taber Scholarship for Women in Pre-Engineering at Albion College, which has supported alumnae who are now working in environmental engineering, astrophysics, petrophysics, and other science-related fields. She has also supported a similar scholarship to encourage students at liberal arts schools to pursue dual degrees at her engineering alma mater. Less directly, she supports female engineering students through her long-term affiliations with the Society of Women Engineers and the Association of American University Women.
Taber has been an active member of the United Methodist Church (UMC) at both local and conference levels. Through the UMC’s Volunteers in Mission program, she has traveled twice to Zimbabwe; she crochets blankets and clothing distributed to children and cancer patients via local and international charities.
Along with her Albion degree in mathematics, Taber completed B.S. and M.S. degrees in systems engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a liberal arts honor society, and Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society. She served as an officer for five years in the Baltimore Alumni Chapter of Tau Beta Pi. Taber lives in Maryland near Washington, D.C.