Research & Innovation

USPTO Issues Four Patents to Stevens Researchers for Healthcare, Communications and Management Inventions

As The Innovation University®, creating new knowledge through cutting-edge research to benefit society is a core mission of Stevens. Every day, Stevens researchers – including distinguished faculty members, graduate students and undergraduate students – work to achieve solutions to pressing global problems by pursuing scientific breakthroughs and technological advances in engineering, the sciences, business and other fields.

In the past academic year, innovative and novel inventions borne from university research activities were transformed into intellectual property with real economic value, as Stevens researchers – aided by the Stevens Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (OIE) – were issued four patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The inventions will improve the outcomes of spinal surgery patients, help corporations implement the highest potential ideas from employees, advance the treatment of HIV and AIDS, and improve transmission of high bandwidth data communications networks.

“A key thrust of Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship is to educate and provide intellectual property awareness training to all Stevens faculty, research staff, employees and students,” said David Peacock, director of intellectual property management at Stevens. “Anyone can have a good idea. We stress the importance of protecting that idea and the value it may have by securing appropriate intellectual property protection, be it a patent, copyright, trademark or trade secret.”

One of this year’s patents was issued to Industry Professor of Biomedical Engineering Dr. Vikki Hazelwood and Assistant Professor Dr. Antonio Valdevit, both of the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology and Biomedical Engineering. They spearheaded research which led to the invention of a “spinal distractor and measuring device,” which allows for more precise disc placement during spinal surgery.

The invention uses sensors and a measurement rod to provide feedback to the spinal surgeons about the size of the spaces between vertebrae and the magnitude of hand force applied to the device by the surgeon. Specifically for use during lumbar fusion surgery or total disc replacement surgery, the invention enables spinal surgeons to more accurately size and place intervertebral implants, reducing the instance of serious complications that can result of these procedures, such as reduced range of motion, the need for subsequent surgeries, or even nicked arteries or spinal cords which can cause paralysis or death.

“Sizing is a common problem surgeons encounter when putting in a spinal spacer for patients who require infusion,” said Valdevit. “This device allows you to distract in parallel and also get an indication of height in both the back and front so the surgeon can fit the right implant.”

Professor A.K. Ganguly, also of the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology and Biomedical Engineering, was issued a patent for his discovery of a novel class of HIV-1 protease inhibitors (HIV-PIs) used in the treatment of AIDS. Although HIV-PIs have been shown to be an effective therapy in fighting against HIV, widespread use has caused some strains to become drug-resistant, so the discovery of a new class of HIV-PIs is a crucial advancement in AIDS research.

Dr. Peter Koen, associate professor of technology management, was issued a patent for his invention of an enterprise “idea market system” for recording, managing, improving and evaluating ideas by using a stock-market algorithm to identify the best ideas for a crowd-sourced community. The system enables participants to launch an “idea IPO,” invest in other proposals, and track the “value” of an idea through an instant price-setting mechanism. The purpose of the invention is to streamline the collaboration and innovation process, build community engagement, and maximize the potential that an idea will bring a positive return on investment to the enterprise. Koen founded the company ID8 Systems based on this idea.

Finally, Dr. Kishore Pochiraju, director of the Design and Manufacturing Institute and associate professor of mechanical engineering, was issued a patent, with two Stevens students, for the methodology and devices that minimize data transmission delay, or latency, between sensors and monitoring/control equipment. In applications requiring real-time data from the sensors, delay in communication networks drastically reduces the utility of the sensed data. Their invention actively monitors and reduces the data latency by altering the sensor resolution in real-time. Devices incorporating this method have applications in the fields of security, industrial process control and entertainment.

“In security monitoring applications, delays in sensor data communications translate to reduced response times and inaccurate situational awareness,” said Pochiraju, who has also applied the invention to industrial applications and is extending his research to online entertainment. “Delays in communication networks are unpredictable as they depend upon the traffic or environmental conditions. This invention reduces the delay by reducing the amount of data transmitted.”

With 30 patents issued in the past six years, Peacock said the Stevens pipeline is strong and growing stronger.

“The quality of the Stevens faculty and research collaborations in key strategic areas has enabled Stevens to build and enrich its patent portfolio,” Peacock said. “We are now seeing a significant increase in industry relationships and potential licensees as a result of these innovations.”