Irwin J. Gruvermann ChE’54

Irwin Gruverman graduated from The Cooper Union in 1954 with a B.S. in chemical engineering and from MIT in 1955 with a M.S in nuclear engineering. His ongoing academic work has included more than 100 technical articles, presentations and papers, mainly in three fields: isotope methodology, engineering and biotechnology applications in medicine, and analysis of business/high-technology funding options. Of this work, the most notable is Mössbauer Effect Methodology, Volumes 1 – 10, which he edited.

 After a disadvantaged childhood in poor neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York, Irv’s studiousness and penchant for science gained him admission to a series of prestigious schools: Brooklyn Technical High School, The Cooper Union and MIT. As he trained to be a chemical engineer he developed an interest in nuclear engineering and radiochemistry. This eventually led him to New England Nuclear Corporation where he helped establish a new multi-cyclotron facility to produce medical radioisotopes. A notable example of this was his lead in the development and commercial success of Thallium-201 as an imaging diagnostic for heart disease assessment. Even more significant, in the company’s quest to produce existing radioisotope products in greater quantity as well as develop new products requiring higher particle  energy levels, Irv led a project to develop the world’s first commercial linear accelerator.

 During his years at New England Nuclear, Irv gained lots of experience in management and product development while privately following his interest in investment and following his entrepreneurial spirit. The result: He left NEN to start his own company, Biotechnology Development Corporation.

This coincided with the beginnings of the biotech industry; accordingly BDC’s purpose was to find patents in this space with a high potential for commercialization. Irv’s experience and interests matched this very well.

The most promising of these was a device that could be used to create nano-emulsions and other mixtures of nanoparticles. This high-intensity fluid processing system, known as a microfluidizer, had wide potential applications for drug-delivery as well as in the production of chemicals, foods and cosmetics. Again, this was a great fit with Irv’s expertise. And, at that time, nanotechnology, too, was beginning to move from the lab to industry.

Irv and his team decided to make this the sole focus of their business, which was reincorporated as Microfluidics International Corporation with Irv as CEO and chairman. Although he retired from MFIC in 2007, their products and services continue to be important in many research and manufacturing applications.

Irv had more than enough entrepreneurial energy to lend his expertise to enterprises beyond MFIC. During this time and up until quite recently he has been a  co-founder, board member or consultant to over a dozen technology companies. A few of the most significant and interesting:

North American Scientific, Inc. (co-founder, past chairman) was a leader in producing brachytherapy radiation sources for treatment of cancer and other proliferative disorders, and in providing systems for intensity-modulated radiation therapy for precise treatment of malignant tumors.

InVitro International (past chairman) provides non-animal-based irritancy and corrosivity tests for chemicals, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Advanced Radiation Therapy/AccuBoost (consultant) supports a process for breast cancer radiation treatment that allows delivery of the therapeutic dose to the target areas while reducing skin, heart and lung dose.

As Irv has wound down his business and technology career, he has become increasingly involved in philanthropy. He and his late wife, Marge, moved to Lasell Village, a retirement community connected to Lasell University, outside of Boston in 2003. He quickly immersed himself in the academic and cultural activities there, discovering personal musical and dramatic abilities. The community also discovered what an asset he was, soon inviting him to be on the Lasell Village Finance Committee and the Lasell University Board of Trustees. This leadership activity led to his support of University philanthropies, two in particular. 

Niños de Veracruz is a charity started by Lasell students in 2003. The Gruvermans’ support has helped this organization offer microlending and scholarships to the residents of the town of Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico.

Lasell University emphasizes the importance of hands-on experience and all students there complete at least one internship. These are funded by the University and by donors like Marge and Irv in order to allow the students to take unpaid internships instead of paid jobs. In addition to funding a number of these, Irv meets with some of the students to share his experience when that matches their internships.

Irwin Gruverman is a current member of Sigma Xi (Experimental Science Society), Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society), and the American Chemical Society.

Irv Gruverman is the recipient of the 2023 CUAA Gano Dunn Award. He will be inducted into the Cooper Union Hall of Fame on February 9, 2023.