STEM History:

Martine Rothblatt


American lawyer, author, and entrepreneur

Birth/Death Dates

Born Martin Rothblatt 1954 –


Rothblatt is a trans woman who co-founded Sirius Satellite Radio in 1990 but moved to biotech to help her daughter, who was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Rothblatt is the founder and chairwoman of the board of United Therapeutics, which sells five FDA-approved drugs to help with this disease. 

Educational Background

  • University of California, Los Angeles (B.A., J.D, M.B.A)
  • Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (Ph.D.)

Struggles this Innovator Overcame

Rothblatt’s daughter was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension. At that time, the disease was deadly. Rothblatt took it upon herself to find help for her daughter and others with this disease.

Problems this Innovator Solved

Rothblatt moved into biotech after her daughter’s diagnosis. She created the PPH Cure Foundation and founded United Therapeutics in 1996 to save her daughter’s life. Her daughter survived, and United Therapeutics now sells five FDA-approved drugs to help people with this disease.

How this innovator changed the world (or at least their corner of it)

Rothblatt worked first in the field of communications satellite law, then in bioethics and biomedicine. She was also influential in aviation, particularly electric aviation and sustainable building.

She is the founder and chairwoman of the board of United Therapeutics, a former CEO of GeoStar, and the creator of Sirius Satellite Radio.

Lasting changes from this innovator’s work or how they trailblazed

Rothblatt launched several communications satellite companies, including the first non-geostationary satellite-to-car broadcasting system, Sirius Satellite Radio, in 1990.

As an attorney-entrepreneur, Rothblatt was also responsible for leading the efforts to obtain worldwide approval, via new international treaties, of satellite orbit/spectrum allocations for space-based navigation services (1987) and for direct-to-person satellite radio transmissions (1992).

In 1994, at age 40, Rothblatt came out as transgender and changed her name to Martine Aliana Rothblatt. She has since become a vocal advocate for transgender rights.

Rothblatt received many honors in her storied career; among them, she was:

  • Named by Forbes magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds of the past century because of her roles as a “perpetual reinventor, founder of Sirius and United Therapeutics, and creator of PanAmSat.” (2017)
  • Presented the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest award, in recognition of her creation of Sirius XM satellite radio, advancing organ transplant technology, and having “expanded the way we understand fundamental concepts ranging from communication to gender to the nature of consciousness and mortality.” (2018)
  • Recognized as one of Business Insider‘s most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech. (2019)
  • Selected by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) for its highest honor, the Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, for her fostering of aviation weather information on the flight deck and of advanced air mobility such as electric helicopters. (2021)

Written by Donna Abosch