Innovation Awards

Innovation AwardsUNeMed's annual Research Innovation Awards Ceremony is the culmination of a week of activities that celebrate research and innovation at UNMC. In addition to recognizing researchers who secured intellectual property rights, UNeMed has presented Emerging Inventor and Lifetime Achievement awards on a biennial schedule. In 2013, UNeMed presented for the first time ever, an “Innovator of the Year” Award. UNeMed also presents a “Most Promising New Invention” as an annual award.

innovation awards badgeThe 2016 Innovation Awards Ceremony and Reception was held Thursday, Oct. 6 in the Durham Research Center auditorium. Dr. Zucker, UNMC’s 2007 Scientist Laureate, won the Innovator of the Year Award on the back of a new treatment strategy he and his team developed for cardiovascular disease. and the “Innovator of the Year.” Collaborators Joyce Solheim, Ph.D., and Tatiana Bronich, Ph.D., also earned special recognition as the inventors of the “Most Promising New Invention” of 2016. UNeMed, which celebrated its 25th anniversary during Innovation Week, raffled away a free 3D printer to Erik Rask, a graduate student in UNMC’s cardiovascular and biomechanics laboratory.

Download the 2016 Innovation Awards Program.

Innovation Awards Demo Day Past Events

2016 Innovator of the Year

Irving Zucker Irving Zucker, Ph.D., landed top honors at UNeMed’s annual Research Innovation Awards Ceremony and Reception, taking home the 2016 “Innovator of the Year” award for a new treatment strategy he and his team developed for cardiovascular disease.

“This was really an unexpected honor,” Dr. Zucker said during his brief acceptance speech. “Really, the credit goes not to me—I provided the laboratory and maybe some of the funding to get it started—but I’ve been very fortunate to have some really talented people who work in our laboratory.”

His laboratory is focused on reducing the excessive sympathetic nerve activity found in chronic heart failure and in patients with high blood pressure. A biopharmaceutical company recently licensed one of Dr. Zucker’s innovations in a collaborative agreement that could lead to an FDA-approved treatment for chronic heart failure and high blood pressure.

Most Promising New Invention

Solheim BronichCollaborators Joyce Solheim, Ph.D., and Tatiana Bronich, Ph.D., also earned special recognition as the inventors of the “Most Promising New Invention” of 2016. Together, Drs. Solheim and Bronich developed a nanoparticle formulation of a protein called CCL21. The nanoformulated CCL21 has shown great potential for the treatment of cancer.

The nanoparticle developed by Drs. Solheim and Bronich is based on a protein messenger, or chemokine, that has the ability to attract immune cells to a tumor. But the chemokine, CCL21, degrades too quickly inside the body to do much good. By encapsulating the chemokine in a nanoparticle, Drs. Solheim and Bronich found a way to prolong the effects of CCL21.

Previously, Dr. Solheim was named a 2006 Distinguished Scientist. Dr. Bronich was a 2007 New Investigator Award winner, then a 2011 Distinguished Scientist. In 2014 Dr. Bronich was named Scientist Laureate, UNMC’s highest honor bestowed on researchers.

Award Winners

Special Awards

2016 Irving Zucker, Ph.D. Innovator of the Year
2015 Tammy Kielian, Ph.D. Innovator of the Year
2014 Marius Florescu, M.D. Emerging Inventor
2013 Howard Gendelman, M.D. Innovator of the Year
2012 Tammy Kielian, Ph.D. Emerging Inventor
2011 Jonathan Vennerstrom, Ph.D. Lifetime Achievement
2010 Amarnath Natarajan, Ph.D. Emerging Inventor
2009 Rodney Markin, M.D., Ph.D. Lifetime Achievement
2008 Dong Wang, Ph.D. Emerging Inventor
2007 Robert LeVeen, M.D. Lifetime Achievement

Most Promising New Invention

2016 Joyce Solheim, Ph.D. and Tatiana Bronich, Ph.D. Compositions for Modulated Release of Proteins and Methods of Use Thereof
2015 Michael Wadman, M.D., F.A.S.E.P. &
Thang Nguyen, M.S.N., A.P.R.N., F.N.P.-C
Emergency Medicine Care Portfolio:
Wound Irrigation System & Oral
Airway Management
2014 Jason MacTaggart, M.D. Orthagonal AquaBlade
2013 Keshore Bidasee, Ph.D. Targeted Glyoxalase-1 Gene Transfer
to Prevent Cardiovascular and End-
Organ Complications in Diabetes
2012 Gregory Oakley, Ph.D Small Molecule in Vivo Inhibitors of
the N-Terminal Protein Interacting
Domain of RPA1
2011 Babu Padanilam, Ph.D Novel Target for the Treatment of
Renal Fibrosis
2010 Stephen Bonasera, M.D., Ph.D. Noninvasive Monitoring of Functional
Behaviors in Ambulatory Human
2009 Paul Dunman, Ph.D. Novel Antibiotic Compounds
2008 Guangshun (Gus) Wang, Ph.D. Anti-HIV Peptides and Methods of
Use Thereof
2008 Janina Baranowska-Kortylewicz, Ph.D. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin: New
Target for Cancer Therapy

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