Some of the state’s most innovative scientists were honored Nov. 13 for their work in addressing important societal needs such as faster wound healing for diabetics, more accurate test kits for food contaminants, a safer attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medication, a first-of-its-kind solution for concussions, and a more personal approach to diagnosing and treating Hepatitis C.
Florida State University’s Ninth Annual Innovators Reception showcased some of the university’s top research and creative talent and recognized those inventors who were making successful strides in moving their research from campus labs out into the marketplace.
“Florida State University is a hub of research activity that is making a difference in people’s lives while also spurring new companies and jobs for Floridians,” Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander said. “The Innovators Reception lets us honor these researchers for their hard work and contributions to society and at the same time make the broader community aware of our activities.”
The reception gave special recognition to those faculty members who worked to commercialize their research in the past year or who received one of the university’s Grant Assistance Program (GAP) awards during the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The GAP awards, given out twice per year, are university grants to support future work on inventions or other original creative activity. With GAP funding, FSU research projects have a better chance to be commercialized and made available publicly.
Researchers who had patents issued or who filed for patents in the past fiscal year were also honored at the reception.
The work by these researchers spanned a variety of disciplines, including noise control, food allergies and the body’s ability to heal.
For some of these researchers, this work has spanned decades.
Professor of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Science Peggy Hsieh, has been spending the last 20 years examining food and the animal byproducts that frequently contaminate them.
Through her work, she’s developed a line of antibodies that will detect whether food has been contaminated by other animal products. So, food safety inspectors could see whether chicken or pork wound up in ground beef or whether central nervous system or blood is in a product.
This could help people with food allergies or dietary restrictions from consuming the wrong type of food. It could also help food vendors determine what they are really cooking and selling.
“I call my researchers my kitchen researchers because it relates to daily life,” she said.
Florida-based Elisa Technologies has licensed the antibodies to develop them into commercially available kits.
Similarly, Michael Blaber, professor of biomedical sciences at Florida State, has been spending years looking at protein growth factors, or naturally occurring proteins that stimulate the growth of specific cells.
He was able to develop a family of mutant protein growth factors that when applied, could help with a person’s blood flow and thus help wounds heal faster. In practical terms, Blaber wants to develop it with the hope that it may help people with diabetes.
Wounds in a diabetic often take longer to heal and sometimes can develop complications such as gangrene. It could also potentially be used on difficult heart cases.
“These are patients with a blocked coronary artery that can’t be treated by angioplasty or bypass,” Blaber said.
Blaber’s work still must undergo significant rounds of testing before it could be made available, but E&B Technologies is working with Blaber and FSU to help prepare his work for clinical trials.
The following FSU faculty members received 2013 Innovator Awards for the research projects described below:
- Farrukh Alvi, director of the Florida Center for Advanced Aeropropulsion
Alvi and his team developed a series of patented and patent-pending inventions that are being used as part of a larger project by Honda to address noise control associated with cabin openings.
- Michael Blaber, professor of biomedical sciences
Blaber developed a family of mutant protein growth factors that can promote vascularization and improve the body’s ability to heal a wound. E&B Technologies will perform the tasks required to initiate clinical trials.
- Carol Connor, associate professor, Florida Center for Reading Research
Connor developed software, known as A21, to help both slow and fast learners reach grade level target achievements. FSU granted a license to Rubicon partners to allow Connor to continue to develop the software.
- Chris Edrington, assistant professor of electrical engineering
Edrington is working on a federally funded project to develop a method to harvest energy waves
- Peggy Hsieh, professor of nutrition food and exercise science
Hsieh developed antibodies to detect central nervous system tissue in food products. Florida-based Elisa Technologies has licensed the antibodies to develop them into commercial test kits.
- T.N. Krishnamurti, professor emeritus in earth, ocean and atmospheric science
Krishnamurti developed and FSU patented a series of algorithms and programs for multi-media superensemble weather forecasting.
- Jose Pinto, assistant professor of biomedical sciences
Pinto has developed a new way to test for cardiomyopathies. The Torrey Pines Institute and FSU have agreed to explore commercial applications for this new technology.
- Kenneth Roux, professor emeritus in biological sciences
Roux developed a series of antibodies to detect pecan, walnut and cashew nut proteins that can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. The antibodies have been licensed to Tallahassee-based BioFront Technology.
- Joseph Schlenoff, professor of chemistry and biochemistry
Schlenoff developed a novel antifouling coating to be used on implantable medical devices. FSU has an option agreement for the coating with Becton Dickinson, an American medical technology company that manufactures and sells medical devices.
- Hengli Tang, associate professor of biological sciences
Tang developed a line of antibodies useful in identifying types of Hepatitis C. It has been licensed to BioFront Technology, which hopes to turn it into a diagnostic product line.
- Jacob VanLangingham, assistant professor in medicine
VanLandingham has developed a drug to treat and reduce symptoms associated with brain injuries or concussions. FSU has licensed the technology to a spin-off company created by VanLandingham called Prevacus.
- Wei Yang, associate professor in chemistry and biochemistry
Yang developed software that simulates the occurrence and strengths of protein binding events. This would potentially reduce the time and cost of drug screenings performed by pharmaceutical companies. The Torrey Pines Institute and FSU have agreed to explore commercial applications for this technology.
- Ming Ye, associate professor of scientific computing
Ye and former student Fernando Rios, now a doctoral student at University of Buffalo, developed a computer software program to estimate the amount of nitrate in septic systems to surface water bodies. A Tallahassee-based start-up company YRL Consulting has licensed the program for commercial applications.
- Jim Zheng, professor in electrical and computer engineering
Zheng developed a light-weight super capacitor that can improve the amount of energy stored per kilogram of device mass by a factor of four or more. FSU has licensed the technology to Tallahassee-based General Capacitor.
- Pradeep Bhide and Jinmin Zhu, professor and assistant professor in the College of Medicine
Bhide and Zhu are developing and evaluating a new drug to treat attention deficient hyperactivity disorder that does not have addictive properties found in current treatment options.
- Myra Hurt and Raed Rizkallah, professor and assistant research scientist in the College of Medicine
Hurt and Rizkallah are developing a method to grow an antibody used in many forms of disease research.
- Teng Ma, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering
Ma is designing a cost effective way to produce large batches of stem cells being used in areas such as cardiovascular and neural degenerative disease research.
- Jim Zheng, professor in electrical and computer engineering
Zheng is designing the next generation of supercapacitor fuel cell technology that can deliver bursts of increased energy.
- Amy Wetherby, director of the Autism Institute at the College of Medicine
Wetherby is planning a national campaign for a new web-based system that helps parents and medical practitioners identify autism warning signs in children at young ages.
- Jhunu Chatterjee, assistant scholar scientist at the High Performance Materials Institute
Chatterjee is developing more cost-efficient biosensors that doctors can use to detect slight changes in the human bodies. This could lead to earlier detection and diagnosis of diabetes, cancer and other types of illnesses.
- Yan Li, assistant professor in chemical and biochemical engineering
Li is developing a new testing method to help researchers examine the effects of pharmaceutical drugs and how they treat disease.
- Alan Lemmon, assistant professor in Scientific Computing
Lemmon is testing out a new method to map non-human genes such as insets and plans as a way to control pests.
Sponsors of the event included Alchemy-Partners; Allen, Dyer, Doppel & Gilchrist; Armstrong Teasdale; Novake, Druce, Connolly, Bove & Quigg; Pennington; Saliwanchik, Lloyd & Eisenchenk; Senniger Powers; Smith & Hopen; Sutherland; Gallagher Intellectual Property Law; Thompson Coburn; and Woodruff & Black.