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UMD Recognizes Past Year's Most Promising Innovations

April 19, 2013
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Early diagnosis of Lou Gehrig's disease; time-reversal techniques for optimizing new broadband wireless networks; and a desktop manufacturing method for plastic lab-on-a-chip technologies were the award-winning inventions recognized as the past year's most promising new UMD technologies at the recent University of Maryland Invention of the Year Awards.

Winners were selected by an independent panel of judges consisting of representatives from on and off campus, who voted for the Invention of the Year in three different categories: Information, Life, and Physical Sciences. The BioHealth Innovation Inc., a Maryland-based innovation intermediary that helps commercialize market-relevant research, has offered services to each winning team to help them write a successful Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) proposal.

UMD's Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), part of the Division of Research, hosted the 26th Annual Invention of the Year Awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Speakers at the reception included Vice President for Research Dr. Patrick O'Shea and OTC Executive Director Dr. Gayatri Varma (both pictured in photos below). The event is part of the University of Maryland's 30 Days of EnTERPreneurship, a month-long celebration and exhibition of innovation and entrepreneurship on the College Park campus.

The winners of this year's Invention of the Year Awards are:

LIFE SCIENCE CATEGORY:
L-R:Executive Director of OTC Gayatri Varma, UMD's Vice President for Research Patrick O'Shea and Eva Chin

A Method for Early Diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Eva Chin (pictured above) and Dapeng Chen
Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed an innovative strategy to identify early, pre-symptomatic indicators and molecular markers associated with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, a disease of the nerve cells or neurons in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. There is no known cure for ALS, but a drug called riluzole is used to slow the progression of the disease and prolong life. Thus earlier diagnosis and treatment could enable the alleviation of symptoms and hence prolong a patient's life.

INFORMATION SCIENCE CATEGORY:
L-R:Executive Director of OTC Gayatri Varma, UMD's Vice President for Research Patrick O'Shea and  Feng Han
Time-Reversal Division Multiple Access for Wireless Broadband Communications
Feng Han (pictured above), Yu-Han Yang, Beibei Wang, Yongle Wu and K. J. Ray Liu
New wireless broadband systems for communicating multimedia data are being developed for public and commercial use that will have high speed data transmission and security comparable to fiber/cable transmission. A team of researchers at the University of Maryland have developed an innovative approach to overcome the interference problems inherent in such wideband wireless systems by using an innovative time reversal (TR) signal transmission technique. When a signal travels through the air, its waves get scattered before being picked up by an antenna. In time reversal techniques, a received signal can be recorded and transmitted backwards to reverse the scatter and create a signal beam focused in space and time. The UMD team's time reversal-based technology results in a low cost, energy-efficient (a very low radio frequency (RF) transmission), secure solution for multi-user wireless broadband communication networks that is well-suited for the quickly emerging area of wireless home area networks (WHAN) for multi-media and data, and for other applications such as radio frequency identification (RFID) systems.

PHYSICAL SCIENCE CATEGORY:
L-R:Executive Director of OTC Gayatri Varma, UMD's Vice President for Research Patrick O'Shea and  Omid Rahmanian and Donald DeVoe
A Method for Rapid, Inexpensive Prototyping of Microfluidic Devices
Omid Rahmanian and Donald DeVoe (both pictured above)
Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a desktop manufacturing method for plastic lab-on-a-chip technology that allows complete microfluidic chips to be fabricated in just a few minutes, more than 100 times faster than previous methods. In addition to microchannels, the technology supports the formation of complex components such as burst valves and nanogaps, allowing high-level functional integration of analytical elements. The technology is presently being applied to the development of low-cost medical diagnostics for applications in world health.

The runners up in this year's Invention of the Year Awards are:

  • Sensor Adaptation in Iris Biometrics by Jaishanker Pillai, Maria Puertas-Calvo, Ramalingam Chellappa
  • High Resolution, Real-Time Polling Application for Enhanced User Engagement by Philip Resnik
  • Novel One-pot Transformation Process for Making a Pure Provitamin a Carotenoid by Frederick Khachik
  • Novel Method to Synthesize Stable, Self-Assembling Virus-like Nano Rods and Tubes by James Culver, Adam Brown, Lindsay Naves
  • Electronic Home Plate by Christopher Davis, John Rzasa, Gerald Spessard, Leroy Chamberlain, Jr., Jakob Scharmer
  • Sensor System for Detection of Scour and of Riverbed Migration by Raymond Swartz, Alison Flatau

For more detailed information regarding the finalists, see www.techtransfer.umd.edu.