Innovation Awards

Innovation Awardsinnovation awards badge
UNeMed's annual Research Innovation Awards Banquet is the culmination of a week of activities that celebrate research and innovation at UNMC and UNO. The awards recognize faculty, students and staff that invented a new technology, licensed an invention or secured intellectual property rights during the previous fiscal year. UNeMed also presents Emerging Inventor, Lifetime Achievement, and Innovator of the Year awards as circumstances dictate. Finally, UNeMed also presents a “Most Promising New Invention” as an annual award. In 2018, the first Startup of the Year award was presented by UNeTech, the University’s incubator and accelerator program.

The 2023 Research Innovation Awards Banquet was held at the Hilton Omaha on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. Rebekah Gundry, PhD, was named the Emerging Inventor for her work in mass spectrometry and bioinformatics; Alexey Kamenskiy, PhD, Anastasia Desyatova, PhD, Ali Akbar Ahmadi and Jason MacTaggart, MD, won the Most Promising New Invention award; and Michael Wadman, MD, Thang Nguyen, PhD, and Wesley Zeger, DO, took home the Startup of the Year award.

Download the 2023 Innovation Awards Program here.

Innovation Awards Demo Day Past Events

Emerging Inventor

Emerging InventorRebekah Gundry, PhD, was the 2023 Emerging Inventor of the year, in recognition of her inventions and research accomplishments in the field of mass spectrometry, bioinformatics and the cell surfaceome.

Dr. Gundry is an inventor on eight new inventions submitted over the last five years. Her inventions include surface expressed proteins, unique to pancreatic beta cells, that could be used for developing targeted therapies, and a kit for isolating and analyzing glycans.

Dr. Gundry’s work focuses on developing and applying novel mass spectrometry-based technologies and bioinformatic tools to better understand cell surface glycoproteins and glycans.

One of her technologies, CellSurfer Platform, can be used to identify cell surface N-glycoproteins. Along with her CellSurfer platform she has also developed the Visual Inventory of Surface Proteins (VISUN) database, which is a catalog of experimentally verified surface proteins from a variety of cell and tissue types.

Combining CellSurfer and VISUN allows Dr. Gundry to identify surface glycoproteins that are unique to a specific cell type. These proteins represent potential targets for the development of biomarkers or for development of targeted therapeutics. Several pharmaceutical companies have expressed interest in collaborating with Dr. Gundry to explore the use of her CellSurfer and VISUN platforms for the development of therapeutics.

Most Promising New Invention

Alexey Kamenskiy, PhD, Anastasia Desyatova, PhD, Ali Akbar Ahmadi and Jason MacTaggart, MD

The Most Promising New Invention of 2023 was presented to a cross-campus collaboration of UNO engineers—Alexey Kamenskiy, PhD, Anastasia Desyatova, PhD, and Ali Akbar Ahmadi—and a UNMC clinician, Jason MacTaggart, MD

Their invention, "Optimized Vascular Stent," is an improvement for stents used in legs to treat patients with peripheral artery diseases. Their designs could lead to fewer patients needing repeat surgery, saving them from expensive hospital bills while improving their overall health. 

Startup of the Year

Startup of the YearThe Startup of the Year award went to University Medical Devices and co-founders Michael Wadman, MD, Thang Nguyen, PhD, and Wesley Zeger, DO.

University Medical Devices is developing MicroWash, a fast, comfortable, and self-contained nasopharyngeal irrigation device designed to collect nasal samples—a dramatic improvement over the long swabs that gained notoriety during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MicroWash was accepted into NMotion’s 2022 Growth Accelerator cohort and in the process of closing on a $1.5 million seed round. 

2023 Innovation Awards Program

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Award Winners

Special Awards

2023 University Medical Devices Startup of the Year
2023 Rebekah Gundry, PhD Emerging Inventor
2022 Exavir Therapeutics Startup of the Year
2022 Bin Duan, PhD Emerging Inventor
2021 Ensign Pharmaceutical Startup of the Year
2021 Hanjun Wang, MD Innovator of the Year
2020 BreezMed Startup of the Year
2020 COVID-19 Inventors Innovators of the Year
2019 FutureAssure Startup of the Year
2019 Benson Edagwa, PhD Emerging Inventor
2019 FutureAssure Startup of the Year
2018 UNO Biomechanics Department Innovator of the Year
2018 Centese, Inc. Startup of the Year
2017 Donny Suh, M.D. Emerging Inventor
2016 Irving Zucker, PhD Innovator of the Year
2015 Tammy Kielian, PhD Innovator of the Year
2014 Marius Florescu, M.D. Emerging Inventor
2013 Howard Gendelman, M.D. Innovator of the Year
2012 Tammy Kielian, PhD Emerging Inventor
2011 Jonathan Vennerstrom, PhD Lifetime Achievement
2010 Amarnath Natarajan, PhD Emerging Inventor
2009 Rodney Markin, M.D., PhD Lifetime Achievement
2008 Dong Wang, PhD Emerging Inventor
2007 Robert LeVeen, M.D. Lifetime Achievement

Most Promising New Invention

2023 Alexey Kamenskiy, PhD; Anastasia Desyatova, PhD; Ali Akbar Ahmadi; Jason MacTaggart, MD Optimized Vascular Stent
2022 Cody Anderson and Song-young Park, PhD System for Measuring Blood Pressure in Wearable Electronic Devices
2021 Brian Knarr, PhD; Travis Vanderheyden; Russell Buffum Improved Self-Pacing Treadmill
2020 Joseph McMordie, M.D. and Daniel Sturdell, M.D. Anterior Cervical Space Spreader
2019 Corey Hopkins, PhD PDE4B Selective Inhibitors
2018 Catherine Gebhart, PhD and Varun Kehsarwani, PhD Multiplex assay for rapid detection of HSV1, HSV2, EBV and CNV by qPCR
2017 Jingwei Xie, PhD, Mark Carlson, M.D., Shixuan Chen, PhD Nanofiber Sponges for Hemostasis
2016 Joyce Solheim, PhD and Tatiana Bronich, PhD 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, PhD 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., PhD Noninvasive Monitoring of Functional
Behaviors in Ambulatory Human
2009 Paul Dunman, PhD Novel Antibiotic Compounds
2008 Guangshun (Gus) Wang, PhD Anti-HIV Peptides and Methods of
Use Thereof
2008 Janina Baranowska-Kortylewicz, PhD Sex Hormone Binding Globulin: New
Target for Cancer Therapy

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