After years of development and experimentation (on pigs, and also on himself), the product—dubbed the Esophageal Cooling Device—has been approved for use in Europe and Canada, where the company is gearing up for sales. It has yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Advanced Cooling is based at the Illinois Institute of Technology's South Side tech park and a member of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization's Propel program for startups. Initially, it was funded by Dr. Kulstad and three co-founders. It secured $180,000 in equity investment in 2011 and later raised $1.5 million in convertible debt. Recently, the company received $1.5 million in venture capital led by Heartland Angels of Evanston, Ill.
The son of a U.S. State Department officer, Dr. Kulstad was born in Venezuela and lived in Haiti and Morocco before his family settled in suburban Washington. After a high school career during which he “got in a lot of trouble,” he had little interest in college, so he worked as a mechanic. He later earned bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering and worked for a Houston biotech startup. He enrolled at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at age 30.
Dr. Kulstad finished an emergency medicine residency in 2004 at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he practices.
Four years later, he and an engineer friend built the first cooling tube prototype using materials from Home Depot, he says. The latest iteration connects to external chiller machines that many hospitals already own.
The device “is a glorified plastic tube,” says Cliff Turner, Heartland's executive manager and an investor himself. He means that as praise: “The gross margins are very nice from an investor point of view.”
"A cool way (literally) to save heart attack victims" originally appeared in Crain's Chicago Business.