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. 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 2021 Innovation Awards has been postponed until it is safe again for large, in-person events. If it becomes apparent that in-person events will be impossible or inadvisable for the foreseeable future, then we will explore hosting the 2021 Awards as a virtual event. We will update this page and make additional public announcements as we make these decisions.

The 2020 Research Innovation Awards Banquet was held Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, virtually via Zoom. Forty-four inventors were named the Innovators of the Year for their inventions related to helping the COVID-19 pandemic; Joseph McMordie, MD, and Daniel Sturdell, MD, won the Most Promising New Invention award; and Stephen Salzbrenner, MD, took home UNeTech's Startup of the Year award.

Download the 2020 Innovation Awards Program here.

Innovation Awards Demo Day Past Events

Innovators of the Year

Innovators of the YearThe 44 inventors who contributed to inventions related to the COVID-19 pandemic are the 2020 Innovators of the Year.

In just a few months, 44 University inventors combined their expertise and experience to create 28 new inventions related to the pandemic.
Most of those innovations focused on helping protect healthcare providers, and some were fast-tracked to market and used throughout the world. For example, UMNC inventors created an intubation shield that several American hospitals and care facilities purchased. Another device, an infectious disease filter adapter for air masks, sold in bulk quantities to the U.S. Air Force.
Other innovations included mobile applications to help track or screen the pandemic; new mouse models and assays to help improve study of the novel coronavirus responsible for the pandemic; solutions to personal protective equipment shortages; and solutions to limit the spread of infectious disease.

Most Promising New Invention

Joseph McMordie, MD, and Daniel Sturdell, MDJoseph McMordie, MD, and Daniel Sturdell, MD, are developing a new approach to c-spine retractors that could help future surgeons increase their access during complicated and delicate neurosurgeries.

Their invention, "Anterior Cervical Space Spreader," enables neurosurgeons to space the vertebra of the neck in order to perform crucial reconstructive and reparative surgeries. This invention is already generating promising interest amongst medical device companies producing similar equipment.

Startup of the Year

Stephen SalzbrennerUNeTech also presented its Startup of the Year with BreezMed taking home the prize.

Stephen Salzbrenner, MD, created built BreezMed on the foundation of a software solution he created to the often confusing and bureaucratically complicated interaction between insurance companies, doctors and pharmacists. His solution promises to eliminate a lot of the red tape and revolutionize how doctors manage prior authorizations.

UNeTech is the university’s startup accelerator and incubator program, which was established in 2018 to help nurture early stage technologies and fledgling startup companies with university ties.

2020 Innovation Awards Program

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Award Winners

Special Awards

2020 BreezMed Startup of the Year
2020 COVID-19 Inventors Innovators of the Year
2019 FutureAssure Startup of the Year
2019 Benson Edagwa, Ph.D. 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, 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

2020 Joseph McMordie, M.D. and Daniel Sturdell, M.D. Anterior Cervical Space Spreader
2019 Corey Hopkins, Ph.D. PDE4B Selective Inhibitors
2018 Catherine Gebhart, Ph.D. and Varun Kehsarwani, Ph.D. Multiplex assay for rapid detection of HSV1, HSV2, EBV and CNV by qPCR
2017 Jingwei Xie, Ph.D., Mark Carlson, M.D., Shixuan Chen, Ph.D. Nanofiber Sponges for Hemostasis
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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