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Student Highlights

In It For the Long Haul

October 28, 2016

David Stein

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, David Stein had a passion for medicine, science, and engineering, so a major like biomedical engineering seemed exciting. An avid weightlifter, Stein was attracted to Johns Hopkins not only for its excellent academics, but also for the chance to train under its former strength coach, Bill Starr. He excelled in both. Stein earned his bachelor’s degree in BME in 1997 and stayed to complete a master’s degree in 1999 and a PhD in 2001, working in the lab of Gregory Chirikjian.

After graduating, Stein signed on for what he thought was a temporary job with a small medical device company that was acquired a few years later by Siemens Healthineers. Through positions of increasing responsibility in product development, business operations, and portfolio strategy, Stein directed development and strategy for a number of successful products and moved up to become CEO for the Point of Care Business Unit and head of strategy for the company’s Diagnostics division. Today he’s the global head of strategy and innovation for the company.

“I like that I get to work across the world, across cultures,” says Stein, who is based in northern New Jersey but has teams across the globe. “I have a very broad responsibility, from strategy to cutting-edge research to government affairs to incubating a few businesses. I’m never bored; there’s always something really interesting … I love that I get to interact with engaged, caring, and really smart people.”

One product his team recently developed is a molecular test to detect the presence of Zika virus in blood or urine. “When the Zika outbreak started to emerge, we thought we could quickly develop a test to aid in the management of this virus,” Stein says. “We mobilized our troops really fast, and I’m really proud of what the team accomplished.”

Stein says his work ethic stems from growing up in a family business and attending Johns Hopkins, both of which taught him to apply lessons learned in one area to other arenas. He has remained in contact with several former classmates and professors, and he returns to campus a few times a year to meet with researchers, department staff, and students.

Stein also remains in touch with his JHU weightlifting friends and fondly remembers his former coach, Bill Starr, nicknamed “Starrman,” who died in 2015. “Starrman became an integral part of my education and growth as an athlete, but more importantly as a person. Bill taught me how to lead, push people to be their best, to give selflessly, gain joy through the achievements of others, and try to get a little better every day.”

“I try to share what I’ve learned—the mistakes I’ve made and the ideas I have—because I’m not a classic corporate guy. I’m very far from it,” Stein says. “I share that it’s OK to be a round peg in a square hole. You don’t have to conform.”

– Karen Blum