Technology Licensing Office celebrates innovation, honors inventors

May 22, 2003
| By: Aubrey Bloom

The Technology Licensing Office of The Texas A&M University System hosted "A Celebration of Innovation in the Research Valley" May 14. The celebration commemorated the 2000th invention disclosure filed by A&M System faculty and researchers. The event celebrated the innovative spirit of A&M System researchers and showcased how technology transfer contributes to the economic development of the community. Chancellor Howard D. Graves gave the keynote address for the celebration that honored ten inventors with "Spirit of Innovation" awards for their contributions to the A&M System and to society. Professor of Electrical Engineering Mark Ehsani and Sebastien Gay received a Spirit of Innovation Award for the "2000th Disclosure." Their invention, related to new design features for hybrid vehicles they developed at the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), was the 2000th invention disclosure submitted to the Technology Licensing Office by A&M System researchers since the formation of the TLO in 1992. Dr. Mark T. Holtzapple, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University and researcher with TEES, received the Spirit of Innovation Award for "Ingenuity." Dr. Holtzapple has submitted more than 80 invention disclosures, many more than any other faculty member. His disclosures have resulted in four license agreements with two start-up companies. His inventions include biomass conversion processes and the StarRotor engine. Dr. Leonard M. Pike, Professor of Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University and Director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (TAES), received the Spirit of Innovation Award for "Economic Impact." The "Texas 1015 Onion," other onion varieties, carrots (including the BetaSweet maroon carrot), and many other improved vegetable varieties have been licensed to growers and seed companies across the state and the world. The improved varieties have resulted in economic impact of millions of dollars for the Texas agricultural industry, especially in the Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Gyula Vigh, Professor of Chemistry, Texas A&M University, received the Spirit of Innovation Award for "Corporate Partnership." Dr. Vigh showed licensee Gradipore, Ltd. an alternative way of doing isolectric focusing separations that would work for proteins and pharmaceutical chiral molecules. Gradipore has since endowed the Gradipore Chair in Separation, in which Dr. Vigh currently sits, joined the Chemistry department's Industry-University Cooperative Chemistry Program (IUCCP), and sponsored research in Dr. Vigh's laboratory. Dr. Stephen Safe, Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, and Director for The Center for Environmental and Genetic Medicine at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology at The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, received the Spirit of Innovation Award for "Research Support." The results of Safe's research in antitumorigenic agents and endocrine therapy for breast cancer have been licensed to AVAX Technologies. His research has generated more than 7 million dollars of sponsored research since 1999 for the development of compounds for potential application in the treatment of cancer. Dr. Max D. Summers, TAES Distinguished Professor of Entomology, and Associate Vice President for Research for Texas A&M University, received the Spirit of Innovation Award for "Global Outreach and Institutional Reputation" for his development of the Baculovirus Expression Vector System (BEVS). BEVS is the subject of more than 80 non-exclusive license agreements in 11 countries. The platform technology for drug development is cited in more than 100 publications a year, enhancing the institutional reputation of Texas A&M University around the world. Dr. Roger Bligh, associate research engineer and manager of the Roadside Safety Program at Texas Transportation Institute (TTI); Dr. Carl Eugene "Gene" Buth, head of TTI's Safety and Structural Systems Division; and Dr. Hayes Ross, research engineer for the Roadside Safety Program at Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, received the Spirit of Innovation Award for "Public Benefit" for their development of highway guardrail end treatments, ET-2000 and SRT. With more than 150,000 installations, these devices have saved hundreds of lives and have reduced medical expenses by millions of dollars for those individuals who accidentally hit the end of guardrail on roadways. The TLO, which serves the entire A&M System, seeks to commercialize innovations developed by A&M System faculty and researchers for public benefit and economic development.

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