10 QUESTIONS: Health sciences have a hero in Peter Farrell

Peter Farrell is former CEO and current chairman of ResMed, which he founded in 1989. He holds a B.E. in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney, an S.M. in chemical engineering from MIT, a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a DSc from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) for research contributions regarding treatment with the artificial kidney.

Farrell was Foundation Director of the UNSW Graduate School for Biomedical Engineering (1978-1989) before joining Baxter Healthcare Japan as vice president of research and development. He is a director of NuVasive, Inc., a NASDAQ-listed company involved with the surgical treatment of spine disorders and is also on the board of Scripps Research Institute.

Farrell is a fellow of several professional bodies, including the National Academy of Engineering. He was named 1998 San Diego Entrepreneur of the Year for Health Sciences, Australian Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001, and U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year for Health Sciences in 2005. Farrell joined the executive council of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School in 1998, served as vice chairman (2000-2010), and became chairman (2010-13).

What brought you to La Jolla?

ResMed’s global headquarters were established in San Diego in the mid-‘90s and I moved here from Sydney in late 1995. I soon discovered that La Jolla was indeed a jewel of a place to live.

What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

My comments are applicable more to the whole state of California. Philosophically, I tend toward being a Libertarian, but I’m very much a fiscal conservative. The thing I cannot stand is the way politicians waste scarce resources in mindless endeavors, like high speed rail, and refuse to undertake fiscal reform. We don’t have a revenue problem in California but an expenditure problem.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by people with integrity and vision, like Thomas Jefferson.

If you hosted a small dinner party, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Michael Faraday, Isaac Newton, Adam Smith, Margaret Thatcher, John Locke, Benjamin Franklin, and my wife, Olivia.

What are your favorite movies?

I recommend “Modern Times,” “The 39 Steps,” “Marathon Man,” “American Beauty,” and “No Country for Old Men.”

For those who want to read a good book, I recommend, “The Age of Wonder,” by Richard Holmes.

What is your most-prized possession?

A mural-sized original print of Ansel Adam’s “Moonrise over Hernandez.”

What do you do for fun?

My wife says e-mail, but I do torture myself with golf.

What is it that you most dislike?

Political correctness.

What is your philosophy of life?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is a good motto to live by, but it is also important to give back with the emphasis on teaching people how to fish and not providing the fish.

What would be your dream vacation?

Walking the Santiago de Compostela trail.

Editor’s Note: The co-chairs for the 74th annual Stars and Stripes gala — “Then and Now: A ‘Show’ of Support for Our Military,” May 2 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt — include Olivia and Peter Farrell, Reena Horowitz, Ramin Pourtrymour, and Lori and Bill Walton. Honorary Chairs include June and Neil Ash, Betty Beyster, Joye Blount, Arlene and Richard Eastgate, Ronne Froman and Linden Blue, Helene and George Gould, Jeanne Jones and Don Breitenberg, Vangie and Jim Regan, and Jeri and Richard Rovsek.

Guests will be entertained with cocktails, dinner and dancing, as well as the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band from the rehabilitation program at Walter Reed Military Medical Center and “surprise” talent from San Diego. Tickets from $350 at usosandiego.org or (619) 235-9377.

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