22 University at Buffalo Inventors Honored by SUNY

Release Date: May 23, 2002


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Twenty-two inventors affiliated with the University at Buffalo have been recognized by the State University of New York as being among the outstanding inventors within the SUNY system.

The UB inventors represented more than one third of the 64 SUNY faculty and staff members from campuses across the system who received awards for their achievements from SUNY Chancellor Robert L. King at a ceremony held in Albany on May 20.

"Faculty at the State University of New York conduct some of the most sophisticated and complex research in the world, research that improves our quality of life and oftentimes saves lives," King said at the awards ceremony. "To a growing extent, the scientific and technical developments emanating from that research are being translated into new American products, markets and jobs."

Noting that UB researchers accounted for more than one-third of the inventors honored by SUNY, UB Provost Elizabeth D. Capaldi said, "We are proud that UB swept these awards.

"UB's science and technology is of the highest quality and it is a very high priority for the university to commercialize this intellectual property," Capaldi added. "Our faculty's achievements in this area are truly impressive and we appreciate SUNY's recognition."

Since 1996-97, there have been 340 invention disclosures by UB faculty and staff, 102 U.S. patents have been awarded and 201 license agreements have been entered with businesses throughout the United States, according to a new economic impact study prepared by UB and released earlier this year. UB has entered 19 licenses with companies in New York State, including licenses to three new business enterprises started with UB inventions.

The SUNY inventors were honored in four categories: "outstanding inventor," "entrepreneur," "first-time patent" and "first-time invention disclosure."

Eight UB faculty members were honored as "outstanding inventors," either because they have received multiple patents, their invention has brought in considerable licensing income or their invention is seen as significant in other ways. They are:

o Frank V. Bright, UB Distinguished Professor and professor and associate chair of the Department of Chemistry. Bright has submitted nine new technology disclosures and has been awarded two U.S. patents. In addition, two provisional applications and an international application are pending. Combined, these patents and patent applications are building toward a new generation of biosensors that simultaneously can detect and quantify multiple chemical and biochemical species in a single sample. These biosensors are applicable to a wide variety of problems in medicine, remote assessment and monitoring scenarios, and human space travel.

o Deborah D. L. Chung, Niagara Mohawk Professor of Materials Research, director of the Composite Materials Research Lab and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Her research has covered many materials, including lightweight structural materials, construction, smart materials, adsorption, battery electrode, solar cell and electronic packaging materials. She is the inventor of smart concrete, for which she was awarded a patent. Chung has submitted 70 disclosures, has 15 patents issued and has one provisional application pending. Two of her patented technologies have been licensed.

o David G. Hangauer, associate professor of chemistry. Hangauer's research efforts in drug discovery have resulted in three invention disclosures, all of which have been converted into either full or provisional patent applications. He developed and teaches the world's first academic course in combinatorial chemistry, a new technique that has taken the pharmaceutical industry by storm. Combinatorial chemistry is a chemical-synthesis technique where hundreds or even thousands of new chemical compounds are synthesized at once. Compared to traditional methods, it allows medicinal chemists to discover potential new drugs at what seems like warp speed, which is particularly important in light of the many new drug targets envisioned now that the human genome has been sequenced.

o George C. Lee, director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), Samuel P. Capen Professor of Engineering, and senior university advisor for technology. Lee's research, which focuses on civil engineering, earthquake engineering and engineering education, has resulted in four U.S. patents, with four international applications now pending. His patented invention, "Method and Apparatus for Real-Time Structural Parameter Modification," is licensed to Enidine, Inc., a global manufacturer of energy absorption, vibration isolation and motion control products.

o Claes Lundgren, professor of physiology and director of the Center for Research and Education in Special Environments. Lundgren has been awarded (with co-inventors) more than 120 patents pertaining to, among other areas, human engineering (breathing gear for divers) and the pharmaceutical fields (NicoretteĀ® for smoking withdrawal). Since joining the UB faculty in 1974, Lundgren has submitted six new technology disclosures and has been awarded three patents, two of which are licensed to Sonus Pharmaceuticals and one to a Swiss company, Idiag AG (equipment for respiratory muscle training).

o Timothy F. Murphy, professor of medicine and microbiology. During his distinguished career at UB, Murphy, who conducts research in the area of vaccine development, has submitted 11 disclosures. Nineteen U.S. and foreign patents have been issued and many more are pending. He is working on a vaccine that targets a bacteria that is the second most common cause of ear infections in children and a leading cause of recurrent infection in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

o Frederick Sachs, UB Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Biophysics. Sachs, whose general research objective is the understanding of electrical processes in cells, has submitted more than 35 invention disclosures. In a recent study published in Nature, Sachs reported that a protein isolated from the venom of a Chilean tarantula shows promise as a drug to prevent and treat atrial fibrillation, a chaotic beating of the heart that affects 25 million Americans. Several companies are considering the technology for licensing.

o Sargur N. Srihari, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and director of the Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition(CEDAR). Handwriting recognition software developed by CEDAR, under sponsorship by the United States Postal Service, is used in all postal processing centers in the U.S., with similar systems being deployed at Australia Post and UK Royal Mail. Srihari has submitted 15 new technology disclosures, from which six patents have been issued.

Five UB faculty members were honored as "entrepreneurs" who have demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit that enabled them to move their inventions from the research laboratory into wide-scale use. They are:

o Edmund A. Egan, professor of pediatrics and physiology, and Bruce A. Holm, senior vice provost and professor of pediatrics, pharmacology and toxicology, and gynecology-obstetrics. Egan and Holm developed the commercial surfactant-replacement therapy. INFASURF neonatal, which received new drug approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 1997 as a life-saving drug that has been demonstrated to reduce the morbidity and mortality of premature newborn infants. INFASURF adult is now in phase II clinical trials. INFASURF drugs are manufactured by ONY, Inc., located in the UB Technology Incubator, part of the university's Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach.

o John Eisner, associate professor of pediatric and community dentistry. As associate dean for information resources in the School of Dental Medicine from 1993-2000, Eisner started The Academic Software Collaboration (TASC) as a non-profit software developer under the UB umbrella. In 2001, the TASC group spun out into a for-profit, independent start-up company called Academic Management Systems. AMS is expanding to license its software to all major academic institutions in the United States and abroad. UB has both an equity and royalty stake with this company.

o Joseph K. Gong, associate professor emeritus of oral diagnostic sciences. Gong has been issued two U.S. patents for developing a blood test to measure an individual's total cumulative exposure to radiation over their lifetime, even at very low doses. He recently formed a new company, Nuclear & Environmental Safety Technology (NEST), to market the blood test.

o Troy Wood, associate professor of chemistry. Wood founded Nanogenesys Inc. to produce miniaturized devices for conducting biomedical analysis that were developed in his laboratories. These robust nanospray emitters use a revolutionary, conductive polymer film for biomedical and pharmaceutical applications.

Two UB faculty members and one staff member were recognized for receiving their first patents in 2001. They are:

o Donald Henderson, professor of communicative disorders and sciences and co-director of the Center for Hearing and Deafness. Henderson was issued his first patent for developing a method to prevent and/or reverse inner ear damage due to noise or toxins.

o Wesley L. Hicks, Jr., associate professor of otolaryngology and attending head and neck surgeon at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Hicks was issued both his first and second patents in 2001 for developing wound-healing material for the trachea. His invention is potentially applicable to multiple wound healing applications.

o Timothy Koloski, research assistant in the Department of Chemistry. Koloski was issued a patent for his invention entitled "Fluorocarbon End-Capped Polymers and Method of Synthesis." The technology, which can be applied to the development of wound-healing membranes, received second-place honors in the 2001 Niagara Frontier Intellectual Property Law Association Annual Inventor of the Year Awards.

Seven UB faculty members submitted their first invention disclosures in 2001. They are:

o Sebastiano Andreana, research fellow in the Department of Periodontics and Endodontics and a clinical assistant professor of periodontology and oral and maxillofacial surgery; Libuse A. Bobek, associate professor of oral biology; Rosemary Dziak, professor of oral biology, and Giuseppe Intini, clinical instructor in the Department of Oral Biology, who disclosed a unique biomaterial to be used in bone regeneration. This invention can be useful in the majority of clinical situations, as well as in such future applications as bone gene-therapy procedures.

o Harsh Deep Chopra, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Susan Zonglu Hua, research associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Frederick Sachs, UB Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, who disclosed a new scheme for microfluidic systems. The technique uses bubbles electrolyzed from the fluid flowing through the microchannels. The bubbles can be used to make valves, pumps, fluid mixers, fluid separators and fluid switches, among other devices.

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