Medical Packaging Community Mourns Mike Scholla

An icon in the sterile medical packaging field has died, and the community reacts.

Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

February 2, 2024

5 Min Read

One hopes to make a difference in this world before departing. Mike Scholla did.

He worked in the medical packaging field for more than 35 years and enjoyed a scant four years of retirement before he died on January 26, 2024, at the age of 68.

Among his accomplishments:

• Mike earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology at North Carolina State.

• Mike held a tenured professorship at Memphis State University in Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1980s in Biology and Life Sciences.

• Mike had a distinguished career at DuPont, where he served as Global Director, Regulatory Standards, for DuPont Medical Packaging, before retiring in 2020.

• Mike was one of the original forces behind development of ISO 11607 — one of the best-known standards in the medical device industry. He served as Convener of ISO TC 198/WG7, the group responsible for revising ISO 11607. According to ISO, “the convenor leads the development of ISO standards in that area with the support of project leaders and international experts. The convenor monitors and ensures the progress of ISO standardization works assigned to its group, in particular working towards consensus.” Being convener is a rigorous and complex role, one Mike did with poise.

• Mike made important contributions to the global development of state-of-the-art sterile packaging practices and testing, and to the protection of patients who rely on sterile medical devices.

• Mike served as a consultant in sterilizing the US Senate Offices following the anthrax attack in 2001.

• Mike served on the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) Board of Directors for 16 years, including many years as the Chairman of the Board.

• Mike was an Emeritus Medical Packaging Fellow, and an AAMI Fellow.

• Mike received the 2006 University of Central Florida Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences Professional Achievement Award.

• Mike earned the prestigious Kilmer Award at the 2016 Kilmer Conference.

• Mike received the 2020 AAMI Foundation’s Laufman-Greatbatch Award, which honors an individual or group that has made a unique and significant contribution to the advancement of healthcare technology and systems, service, patient care, or patient safety.

Colleagues and friends share their thoughts and feelings about Mike.

During his more than three-decades career, Mike touched a lot of people. Upon hearing the news of this death, several people reached out to us to share their thoughts and memories.

Jackie Daly Johnson, President, Beacon Converters, on behalf of herself and Kathleen Daly Mascolo: “Kathleen and I have known Mike for over 30 years, since his first months at DuPont. We worked together as customer and supplier, and Mike and I were colleagues on the US and ISO TC198 WG 7 Packaging Committees. Have been thinking about all those years in the last couple days and three things stand out.

“1. Perhaps due to his teaching background, Mike had a unique ability to distill science down to the simple when explaining key concepts — using making toast as an example when explaining process validation.

“2. Mike was an excellent consensus builder. He had a gift for distilling the critical points in a discussion and moving the stakeholders toward a unified position, be it regulatory bodies, device manufacturers, or business artners. 

“3. Last but not least, he had a keen sense of humor, and employed it regularly in both educating efforts and consensus building. His joy and his devotion to improving patient safety will be missed.”

Daphne Allen, Editor, Design News (former editor of Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News): “He was very kind and patient over the years, explaining the latest in packaging developments to me, and truly a friend to anyone involved in sterile medical packaging. Many MD&M West and HealthPack memories with him!”

There was an outpouring of condolences in the comments of a LinkedIn post from DuPont Tyvek Healthcare Packaging, sharing the news of Mike’s death with the industry. Here are a few of them:

Phil Cogdill, VP Global Sterility Assurance & Lab Services at Medtronic: “Mike’s legacy will live on in the ISO standards he helped to draft! He was a great human being and scientist how cared about the people people he worked with and patients he would help through the standards developed. RIP”

Karen Greene, Vice President Client Solutions, Network Packaging Partners: “Mike was an impactful leader for the sterile medical device industry and community. His body of work brought science, technology and standardization to the medical packaging industry. My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Rest in peace.”

Thierry Wagner, Global Director Regulatory & Standards - Healthcare at DuPont Tyvek Medical & Pharmaceutical Packaging: “Dear Mike, your mentorship and friendship will be deeply missed. I am grateful for the cherished memories we shared and will always be inspired by your legacy. Rest in peace. I keep his family in my thoughts.”

Carl Hart, Business Development, Premium Label & Packaging Solutions: “Mike Scholla: A significant contributor to the Sterile Medical Packaging Industry. He is now in good company with George Scanlon and Robert Burgess.”

Laura Bix, Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies; CANR; Michigan State University: “A giant who bridged disciplines with great impact ... god speed Dr. Scholla”

Jan Gates, President/Advisor Packaging Engineer, PackWise Consulting: “A difficult loss for us and the medical device community. Condolences to Mike’s family and colleagues.”

BL Lim, Experience Senior Leader in healthcare and flexible packaging, Asia Pacific: “Very sad news. Dr Scholla was instrumental in developing the medical device packaging in Asia Pacific. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him and had learned a great deal. He will be missed. My deepest condolences to his family and may his soul rest in peace.”

Damian Rodriguez Morel, Corporate Director Labeling and Packaging | CPPL, Serialization, Flexible Packaging, B. Braun Medical Inc. (US): “A big loss for the Healthcare Packaging Community. My condolences to his family and peers.”

Packaging Digest offers its condolences to Mike’s family, friends, and colleagues.

About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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