(OMAHA, Neb., Oct. 10, 2013) — Howard Gendelman, M.D., took top honors, receiving the Innovator of the Year award, and Keshore Bidasee, Ph.D., claimed the Most Promising New Invention to close out the seventh annual Innovation Week at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Thursday evening.
Dr. Gendelman and Dr. Bidasee received their awards during the UNMC Research Innovation Awards Ceremony and Reception in the Durham Research Center auditorium before an estimated crowd of 200. The Innovation Awards — sponsored by UNeMed Corporation, the technology transfer office at UNMC — also honored all the UNMC technologies that were invented, patented or licensed during the previous year.
Afterward, Dr. Gendleman said scientists didn’t do their work for awards and accolades.
“”We embrace, love, cherish the journey,” he said. “It’s like climbing a mountain. The sport isn’t getting to the top, the sport is in the climb.”
Dr. Gendelman was honored for his work against degenerative and infectious brain diseases. In early 2013 he built a partnership with a major pharmaceutical company for an improved treatment and the possible eradication of HIV. Later the same year, Dr. Gendelman’s new therapy for Parkinson’s disease entered a human proof of concept study.
Both may revolutionize how those diseases are treated, and both are based off an initial discovery he made soon after completing graduate school in 1979.
Jonas Salk, the famed inventor of the Polio vaccine, was among those who reviewed Dr. Gendelman’s discovery all those years ago. As Dr. Gendelman related during his acceptance speech Thursday night, Salk was not impressed by the young Dr. Gendelman’s work.
Salk, one of the most celebrated American researchers of the last 60 years, advised Dr. Gendelman to choose a new path of study. Despite Salk’s enormous reputation, Dr. Gendleman made an unlikely decision.
He chose to prove him wrong.
“There’s going to be many hurdles,” Dr. Gendelman said. “It takes not smarts, but determination to get over those hurdles.”
Keshore Bidasee, Ph.D., was honored with the Most Promising New Invention for his work in diabetes. Dr. Bidasee, who joined UNMC in 2002, developed a potentially groundbreaking treatment for complications associated with diabetes.
In opening remarks, UNeMed president and CEO Michael Dixon, Ph.D., said UNMC researchers amassed 525 new inventions in the previous five years.
“That’s 525 new ideas that didn’t exist, 525 new solutions,” Dr. Dixon said to the gathering. “Keep that in the back of your mind tonight, because it’s not about the one or two, it’s about the whole that we’re here to honor.”