Either way, Wade Webster had awfully big shoes to fill.
From an early age, the Greeley kid had aspirations to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather — a doctor who brought new health care methods to northern Colorado in the 1930s.
At the same time, though, he wanted to go the route of his father, who operated a Weld County feedyard, and decades ago, pioneered the feeding of “flaked” corn. His father also helped introduce computer technology to the cattle industry.
Now at age 54, Webster has actually managed to set foot in both the medical and agricultural worlds, and at his current pace, he could have an impact on both industries felt at the global level.
Webster, a doctor who lives in Seattle, Wash., has the patent on a temperature-measuring capsule being used in thousands of dairy cattle across the world.
In February, that technology — an “energy-harvesting bolus,” which reads cows’ internal temperatures to detect illnesses early — will be recognized as one of the “Top 10 New Products” at the 2013 World Ag Expo in California.
DVM Systems in Greeley — formed by five investors, including Webster, to create the technology and distribute it — will be recognized at the expo.
“I suppose he’s doing all right for himself,” said a chuckling Bill Webster, Wade’s father, who is a former state representative and Weld County commissioner, and for more than 30 years operated Webster Feedlots. “We’re pretty proud of him.”
Wade Webster also owns the patent on a temperature-measuring patch being tested in medical facilities, including the intensive-care unit at University of Colorado Health in Ft. Collins, Colo.
The patch automatically measures patients’ temperatures every five minutes and sends those numbers to a database at the hospital, immediately notifying doctors and nurses — who otherwise would have to take each patient’s temperature manually — if there’s an emergency.
In its test phase, the patch has so far been deemed perfectly safe, Webster added.
Additionally, Webster has the patent on a device called the “vaginal sensor,” for which a prototype is still in development by Prima-Temp, Inc. in Boulder, Colo., another company in which Webster has invested.
That technology measures the core temperature of women and includes an application that reports the temperature to their cellphone every five minutes. Similar to a cervical ring, the device is aimed at detecting the minor temperature changes women experience when ovulating, helping women with conception, and also serving as a birth-control method for those who can’t use other forms of birth control for health reasons or personal beliefs.
Referring to peer-reviewed studies, Webster said women are more likely to become pregnant through temperature monitoring than with in-vitro fertilization, even though in-vitro fertilization costs on average of $13,500 per attempt.
It’s Webster’s hope and belief that all of these technologies — by improving the health and the conception rates for both people and cattle — can save lives, labor and millions of dollars.
If his technologies do indeed revolutionize both industries, he’ll owe it all to his Weld County roots, he says.
Early on, Bill’s dad and Wade’s grandfather, William W. Webster, set a high standard of excellence for the family, Wade said. Once the second assistant to William Mayo at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, William moved to Greeley in the early-1930s and brought to the area the innovative health care methods used at the famous medical facility.
“It’s pretty obvious that those two — my father and grandfather — have had a major influence on my career,” said Wade, whose sister, Perry Buck of Greeley, Colo., was recently elected to serve in the Colorado House of Representatives. “I was awfully lucky.”
As excited as Webster gets when he talks about his family and his upbringing, he’s equally as enthusiastic when he discusses his work.
“Temperature is such a simple thing, but so critical in telling us what’s happening,” he said. “Helping develop these technologies, and knowing what they can do to help both industries is something I thoroughly enjoy.
“There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.” ❖