Greg Kovacs leads efforts across the Institute to advance SRI’s business model of Invent / Apply / Transition by facilitating research opportunities utilizing science, technology and research talent from all divisions. Kovacs served as president of SRI Biosciences for two years, and has extensive expertise in academics, entrepreneurship and government service.
In the 25 years before joining SRI, Kovacs was on the faculty of Stanford University, where he was a professor of electrical engineering, and by courtesy, medicine (Cardiovascular Division). He co-founded the Bioengineering Department at Stanford in 2002 and led development of the core curriculum for bioengineering graduate students. His areas of research span a wide array of biomedical topics, including the development of non-invasive instrumentation for biomedical, aerospace, and biotechnology applications; miniaturized sensors, actuators and fluidic systems; analog circuits; systems for physiological signal analysis; cell-based systems for drug discovery; and testing of stem-cell cardiac therapies.
For more than 30 years, Kovacs has been active in technology development and entrepreneurship. In 1984, he was on the founding team of Postech (later Squirrel Systems), which then launched the first touch-screen-based point-of-sale system for the hospitality industry and is still going strong. In 1996, he co-founded Cepheid, a molecular diagnostics company that develops molecular tests and systems for organisms and genetic-based diseases, presently shipping more than 20 million assays per year. More recently, he founded PhysioWave, which develops non-invasive cardiovascular risk assessment devices.
Kovacs has a long history of government service. He made significant contributions at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), serving as the director of their Microelectronics Technology Office from 2008 through 2010. In 2003 he was the investigation scientist at the Kennedy Space Center for the space shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board, carrying out forensic analysis of recovered debris to understand the accident. He later served as engineering/medical liaison on the Spacecraft Crew Survival Integration Investigation Team. He has also carried out extensive high altitude and reduced-gravity physiologic research in collaboration with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Kovacs holds an M.D. degree and a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, an M.S. degree in bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A.Sc. degree in electrical engineering from the University of British Columbia. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and also of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
He has authored more than 180 scientific publications, one textbook, and has more than 50 issued patents.
He is a private pilot, scuba diver and a fellow national of the Explorers Club. He was a member of a team sponsored by NASA and the National Geographic Society that climbed the nearly 20,000-foot Licancabur volcano on the border between Chile and Bolivia in 2003 and again in 2004 to conduct high-altitude medical research and underwater videography in the summit lake. He has also climbed several other peaks in the U.S., Spain, Iceland, Japan, and Africa.