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National Academy of Inventors 2013 Conference showcased global innovation

TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 9, 2014) The current special issue of Technology and Innovation- Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors is devoted to presentations from the Second Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) hosted by the University of South Florida, last February 21-23, 2013.

"This conference attracted 200 inventors and innovators from 60 universities, research institutes, and government agencies worldwide," said Nassar Arshadi, vice provost for research, Office of Research Administration, University of Missouri, St. Louis. "A highlight of the conference was the induction of NAI Charter Fellows, including 101 renowned scientists and innovation pioneers from 56 research institutions who collectively hold over 3,200 patents. The goal of the conference was to address research discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship."

In his keynote address, newly inducted Charter Fellow Robert Langer of MIT, who holds over 800 patents, challenged the audience to "find a way that works" to get their inventions to market regardless of skeptics. A pioneer of new technologies, including transdermal delivery systems, Langer told attendees that he often met resistance from critics in the form of "it can't be done." He is one of only three Americans who have won both the U.S. National Medal of Science and the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Nine papers selected from this year's conference are included in this special issue of Technology and Innovation.

Vitamin D

Hector DeLuca, University of Wisconsin-Madison, an inventor with more than 150 patents and the founder of his own biotechnology company, spoke on the development of Vitamin D analogues with therapeutic potential as new applications of Vitamin D-like compounds find their way into health care. He also discussed commercializing university intellectual property and conflicts that can be avoided in the process.


The early development of this technology was described by its inventor, Eric Fossum, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College. Originally designed for the U.S. space program and now commercialized, the technology is used in many products, including cell phone and web cameras, automobile safety systems, and medically for swallowable pills with embedded cameras for use in endoscopy.

Small, low cost space craft

The University of North Dakota's program to develop a template for creating a small, low cost spacecraft with the cost of parts under $5,000 was described by Jeremy Straub, Department of Computer Science. The process of designing and constructing the OpenOrbiter is providing valuable educational benefits for students as well as enabling wider future CubeSat applications, said Straub.

In vivo wireless communication

Wireless communications and networking can create a paradigm shift for minimally invasive surgeries, said Gabriel Arrobo and Richard Gitlin of the University of South Florida Department of Engineering. The reliable and efficient wireless radio frequency communications of high-definition video are important issues for in vivo communications. The presenters discussed the beneficial potential for Diversity Coding of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing to improve transmission and reliability for the in vivo environments.

Kerri Killen and Samantha Music, Versor, Inc., described their invention, the "electrogoniometer," which, as an alternative to the use of X-rays, measures the range of motion of the human spine. The device was developed especially for those who have had back surgeries and have repeated X-ray evaluation before and after surgery. They developed and patented the non-invasive device in order to reduce patient exposure to radiation that continues despite the most advanced X-ray products.

Anagha Jamthe, the Center for Distributed and Mobile Computing, University of Cincinnati, and colleagues discussed potential applications of Wireless Sensor Networks and Body Area Sensor Networks, such as providing real-time monitoring of Parkinson's disease patients and also tracking and gaining a better understanding of sports-related concussions and other injuries that develop or worsen over time in athletes.

According to presenter Gregg D. Givens, Department of Communication Sciences, East Carolina University, and his colleagues, providing hearing health care to patients in geographically remote areas with little clinic access could be accomplished through a cloud-based distribution system where the patient and audiologist are connected by an Internet server. While such a system exists, its acceptance has been slow because of an incompatibility of reimbursement and licensure in traditional health care practice, said Givens.

Babs Carryer, Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, advocated the use of a commercialization guide for academic inventors that schematically poses a series of questions to help inventors with the details of commercializing their technology and making strategic decisions. Although academic inventors are usually assisted by their technology transfer offices, her recommendations are aimed at providing helpful insights for those who want to be more proactive in the process.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as "Obamacare," has many implications, including those for drug discovery and commercialization. Haskell Adler, senior licensing manager, Moffitt Cancer Center, focused on two aspects: the role played by an Independent Advisory Board and the new rules governing biosimilar products. The first aspect may reduce drug prices while the second aspect may encourage drug development by providing a 12-year exclusivity to a drug, beginning with its FDA approval even if its patent has expired.

The special issue of Technology and Innovation also contains two papers that were not presented at the conference. The first paper, by Karen Holbrook, former president of The Ohio State University and Paul Sanberg, senior vice president for Research & Innovation at the University of South Florida, examined the high cost of successful university research, concluding that universities' ambitious research agendas commit them to ever increasing costs. The authors lay out the implications current practices may have on future university research and offer insightful recommendations.

Also in this issue, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) discusses its participation in the National Day of Civic Hacking, a nationwide effort to encourage information sharing between citizens and government agencies and to promote the rapid development of useful applications. Alexander Camarota, from the USPTO's Office of Innovation Development, details the USPTO's participation by sharing a data set of existing registered trademark information with civic hackers with the goal of creating more versatile search tools. The Third Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors will take place March 6-7, 2014, at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office headquarters in Alexandria, VA.


Contact: Judy Lowry
University of South Florida (USF Innovation)

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