UNMC News

Dr. Markin honored for innovative solutions

picture disc.
Within each problem, lies the opportunity for invention, says Rod Markin, M.D., Ph.D.
Even as a child, Rod Markin, M.D., Ph.D., loved to problem solve.

It fit perfectly with the family philosophy: We don't buy it; we build it.

Together, he and his younger brother spent hours building walkie-talkies, oscilloscopes, furniture, car engines -- even a garage.

Later, he took that innovative streak into the clinical laboratory, where he problem solved to automate processes to reduce turnaround time of medical testing and fill gaps created by workforce shortages.

Dr. Markin honored for innovative spirit

On Thursday, Dr. Markin -- one of the most prolific inventors at UNMC -- received the Lifetime Achievement Award from UNeMed Corporation for his innovations that have transformed the clinical laboratory.

"Dr. Markin adds a fourth leg to the proverbial triad of teaching, research and service," said James Linder, M.D., chief executive officer of UNeMed Corporation. "He has shown tremendous leadership as an academic entrepreneur. This is an important role that our faculty can play in economic development for Nebraska."

Major companies buy into Dr. Markin's inventions

Dr. Markin's patents are licensed to major corporations, including Abbott Laboratories, and they form the basis of modern clinical laboratory automation, Dr. Linder said.

As chairman and president of UNMC Physicians, Dr. Markin thrives on tackling difficult problems.

"If you can define the problem, there are 100 smart people who can find the solution," he said. "Finding and framing the appropriate problem is often the hardest part."

Dr. Markin's professional and academic research interests have focused on solid organ transplantation, informatics and clinical laboratory automation, which includes:

  • Robotics;
  • Information systems;
  • Medical utilization management; and
  • Outcomes optimization.

During his career, Dr. Markin has:

  • Secured 16 U.S. patents;
  • Written more than 300 publications; and
  • Published nearly 200 abstracts and chapters in books.

Solution for lab problems leads to business endeavor

In 1993, he founded LAB-InterLink, a spinoff of UNMC that provided products for hospital-based laboratory automation systems.

He also developed an automated microbiology platform for U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command for use in the clinical laboratory.

"My goal was simply to solve problems for our clinical laboratory, not to build a product," he said.

UNeMed assists with the patent process

But with the help of UNeMed officials, he learned how to protect and patent his ideas.

Obtaining a patent "means you've solved a problem no one else has solved," Dr. Markin said. "The time and effort involved is similar to being published in a significant scientific journal."