Inventors honored during Innovation Week awards ceremony

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public affairs | October 30, 2008

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Jim Linder, M.D., president and CEO of UNeMed, with Dong Wang, Ph.D., recipient of UNeMed's first Emerging Inventor Award.
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Dr. Linder with Janina Baranowska-Kortylewicz, Ph.D., who received a Most Promising New Invention Notification.
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Dr. Linder with Joe Norman, Ph.D., winner of the elevator pitch contest.
Great ideas -- even those that were stumbled on -- can reap great rewards not only for the inventor, but also mankind.

Just ask some of the researchers recognized for their ideas last Oct. 23 during UNeMed Corporation's annual Innovation Awards ceremony. UNeMed Corporation is the marketing and licensing arm for UNMC.

Dong Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical science in the UNMC College of Pharmacy, received UNeMed's first Emerging Inventor Award. The award came with a $25,000 innovation grant for unrestricted research.

"I'm excited and humbled," Dr. Wang said. "There are many people on campus who should be receiving the award. I'm honored."

Two researchers, Janina Baranowska-Kortylewicz, Ph.D., and Guangshun Wang, Ph.D., each received Most Promising New Invention Notification Award, which come with $10,000.

Dr. Baranowska-Kortylewicz, professor of radiation oncology, found out about the award during the ceremony.

"It's a big surprise," she said. "They didn't tell me."

The researcher's work involves molecular imaging -- developing labels that can image growing or developing cancer.

"I said to myself, 'I knew our technology is good, but I'm glad that someone else appreciated it and that it generated enthusiasm," Dr. Baranowska-Kortylewicz said. "We stumbled several agents that can image a specific protein in Alzheimer's disease."

Dr. Guangshun Wang said he was very happy to hear about the award because it will help his research in anti-microbial and anti-HIV peptides.

"It's very good news to me at this time," he said. "It comes in very handy and will allow us to explore more possibilities.

"Anti-microbial peptides are powerful weapons that are millions of years old. They are essential to life -- a first-line defense molecule for humans. They have been used effectively on bacteria and the benefits are not limited to bacteria and are very promising."

Dozens of UNMC researchers were honored for their new inventions, patents and licensed technologies. Recognized were 93 researchers who submitted New Invention Notifications, 16 inventors with issued U.S. patents and 16 creators of licensed technology.

UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., offered words of congratulations, talked about the growth and success of UNeMed, and the impact of research inventions in building a world-class academic health science center.

"Scientific discovery is critical to a world-class academic medical center. It's fundamental to education and clinical care," Dr. Maurer said. "To be world class, we need to do that. I applaud all scientists receiving awards and those moving towards this and the creativity of producing a product that someday will help mankind."

Jim Linder, M.D., president and CEO, UNeMed Corporation, said the awards ceremony was an opportunity to honor the creators of inventions.

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Gus Wang, Ph.D., also received a Most Promising New Invention Notification.
"We are optimistic that the basic research of today will become the translational research of tomorrow," Dr. Linder said, "and that this research will be the basis of commercial products that can make a positive contribution to health care, and potentially bring economic benefit to the inventors, UNMC and to Nebraska."

He said many times researchers may not realize they have something.

"When suddenly a solution is found to a problem that hasn't been solved before, it's a potential invention," he said. "The first thing to do if there's an idea is not to talk about it but come to us and within about a week we can get it protected with a provisional patent application."

Also recognized was Joe Norman, Ph.D., winner of the elevator pitch contest, "You, the Investor, 60 Seconds ... GO!" UNeMed now is working with Dr. Norman to develop a provisional patent application for the idea he proposed in his pitch. Jeff Royal, president Dundee Bank, presented Dr. Norman with a cash prize of $500. The Dundee Bank co-sponsored the competition.

For a complete list of researchers who were recognized during the awards ceremony, go to UNeMed's Web site.