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UT researcher calls on FDA to change rules to address spine screw contamination

A University of Toledo researcher is calling for a revamp of how operating room personnel store and handle the screws used in spinal fusion surgeries after results from a multicenter trial found high levels of contamination on supposedly sterile implants.

“Our findings about the prevalence of contaminated pedicle screws are concerning, to say the least,” said Dr. Aakash Agarwal, an adjunct professor in the UT Department of Bioengineering. “We immediately need to ensure all surgical implants are truly sterile. Our research unequivocally demonstrates that we have not been doing things correctly.”

Dr. Aakash Agarwal, shown here holding a prepackaged surgical screw, has petitioned the FDA to revamp how screws used in spinal fusion sureries are handled to avoid contamination.

Spinal fusion surgeries generally require four to six pedicle screws, but in the vast majority of procedures performed in the United States, surgeons begin with a tray containing 100 or more screws of different sizes to ensure the right size is immediately available within the operating room.

Because so few implants are used in each procedure, most screws are washed and sterilized repeatedly with other contaminated instruments from the operating room before they are actually used during a surgery.

But Agarwal said that isn’t practical or safe, and he’s calling on the Food and Drug Administration to ban the process in the United States.

In a paper published in the Global Spine Journal, a team of experts led by Agarwal found screws that had been repeatedly reprocessed are harboring a number of contaminants, including corrosion, soap residue and organic tissue.

“We randomly selected screws from four different trays of cleaned, wrapped and sterilized screws. Every screw we took out was contaminated, and they were about to go into a patient’s body,” Agarwal said. “The health-care system and patients would really benefit if we start packaging screws individually. The repeated reprocessing system in trays should be banned.”

The researchers recently submitted a formal petition along with their data to the FDA.

Agarwal and his fellow researchers — which included Dr. Steven R. Garfin, interim dean of the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, and Dr. Jeffrey C. Wang, co-director of the University of Southern California Spine Institute and president of North American Spine Society — presented evidence in a separate paper that individually sterile-packed screws also are picking up contaminants as they are handled in the operating room.

The researchers devised a study in which two groups of individually packaged screws were used during live spine surgeries at multiple centers across the United States. One group of screws had a built-in intraoperative guard, while the other group did not have such a guard. The screws were prepared for insertion then sent away for analysis.

“All 26 surgeries in the study had bacterial growth on the unguarded screws. That was the major finding, which surprised everyone,” Agarwal said. “Even if you provide screws in an individually sterile package, the way it’s handled in the operating theater makes it unsterile.”

That could potentially lead to infection and biofilm formation at the screw-bone interface.

No microbial growth was detected on the screws that had integrated guards, which is meant to shield the screw itself from being exposed to air or touch while loading it onto the insertion device.

The findings were published in Global Spine Journal and multiple conference proceedings. It also has been published by news media, including Becker’s Spine Review, Spinal News International, Orthopedic This Week and Orthopedics Today.

Also involved in the research were Dr. Vijay Goel, Distinguished University Professor and Endowed Chair and McMaster-Gardner Professor of Orthopaedic Bioengineering at UT; Dr. Anand K. Agarwal, professor at UT’s Engineering Center for Orthopaedic Research Excellence; Dr. Hossein Elgafy, professor of orthopaedic surgery at UT; and Dr. Boren Lin, postdoctoral fellow at UT’s Engineering Center for Orthopaedic Research Excellence.

Data on surgical site infections following spine surgery varies, but a recent randomized trial from Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital in New York found a 12.7 percent incidence rate. Agarwal said that could represent up to 100,000 patients suffering from surgical site infection in the United States alone.

“We shouldn’t be knowingly putting bacteria and other contaminates inside a patient’s body. With the disclosure of these evidences, it would be impossible to not undertake necessary safety measures,” Agarwal said.

In addition to his faculty appointment at UT, Agarwal is the director of research and development for Spinal Balance, a private company that was founded in 2013 by a group of UT research professors. The firm, with its corporate office at the UT LaunchPad Incubation building, was created in part to address the problem of surgical site infection stemming from contaminated implants.

Agarwal also was recently appointed to the editorial board of the Clinical Spine Surgery journal by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins for his contribution toward original research and peer reviews in the spine field.

UT engineering professors’ invention named to prestigious R&D Top 100 list

A synthetic bone graft substitute developed at The University of Toledo has been recognized by R&D Magazine as one of the year’s most exceptional innovations in science and technology.

Created by Dr. Sarit Bhaduri, UT Distinguished University Professor of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, NovoGro is a moldable bone substitute putty used to fill gaps in bone and encourage new bone growth. It is used primarily in complicated fractures that would not otherwise heal properly on their own.

Dr. Sarit Bhaduri, center, held the R&D Magazine award he received for NovoGro, a synthetic bone graft substitute he created with Dr. Anand Agarwal, left, and Dr. Vijay K. Goel. R&D Magazine named their invention as one of the year’s most exceptional innovations in science and technology.

“Our composition is innovative and quite different from any of our well-known competitors,” Bhaduri said. “The response of bone growth is much faster than other products that are currently available. Our product also incorporates innovative processing techniques that simplify production, which further sets it apart.”

R&D Magazine has annually selected the top 100 revolutionary technologies of the past year since 1963. Among this year’s other winners were Dow Chemical, Texas Instruments, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

“The R&D 100 Award is one of the most prestigious recognitions in applied science,” UT Vice President for Research Frank Calzonetti said. “This award speaks to the ability of Bhaduri and his University of Toledo colleagues in translating highest quality research into marketable products to improve the health outcomes of many.”

Bhaduri teamed up with Dr. Vijay K. Goel, UT Distinguished University Professor and Endowed Chair and McMaster-Gardner Professor of Orthopaedic Bioengineering, and Dr. Anand Agarwal, UT research professor of bioengineering, to license the technology from the University and co-found the biomedical firm OsteoNovus Inc. Agarwal also serves as the president and chief executive officer of OsteoNovus, where the product has undergone further development.

“In this category of orthobiologics — how to grow bone — there are many players, but the problem is the big guys aren’t doing much innovation,” Bhaduri said. “We wanted to disrupt that.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared NovoGro for use in two different indications — spine and the extremities.

Currently, NovoGro has a half dozen clinical users across the country and is trying to grow the client base significantly in 2019.

The company’s corporate offices and manufacturing facility are housed within The University of Toledo LaunchPad Incubation Program.

UT engineers create method to save at least $120,000 per mile on road pavement projects

Before orange construction barrels dot pot-holed streets or highways, a vital part of planning a pavement project is determining how thick the next layer of asphalt needs to be, taking into consideration the layers that already lie beneath the surface.

A team of engineers at The University of Toledo created a new procedure and design software to more accurately estimate the structural capacity of existing pavement that could save the Ohio Department of Transportation millions of dollars on road improvement projects and be adopted by states across the country.

Dr. Eddie Chou is leading a team of UT engineers that designed software to estimate the structural capacity of existing pavement that could save the Ohio Department of Transportation millions of dollars on road improvement projects.

The Transportation Research Board, a unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, selected UT’s project for developing a revised pavement overlay thickness design procedure as one of 32 High-Value Research projects nationwide to be highlighted at its annual meeting Jan. 13-17 in Washington, D.C. The meeting attracts 13,000 transportation professionals from around the world.

The new method is specifically designed for composite pavement — concrete pavement already topped with a thick layer of asphalt — which accounts for the majority of ODOT’s four-lane and interstate highways. Previously, ODOT used a design method that was originally developed for rigid, concrete pavements that tended to produce designs often deemed too thick and wasteful for today’s roadways, as pavement becomes thicker with each additional overlay.

For an update, ODOT turned to the engineer who crafted the original design 25 years ago: Dr. Eddie Chou, UT professor of civil and environmental engineering, and director of the Transportation Systems Research Lab.

“The previous procedure did not work well with thick composite pavement. With this particular type of road, it tended to underestimate the existing structure’s worth,” said Chou, who worked on the project with Dr. Liango Hu, UT associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Many existing pavement sections we examined now require several inches thinner than previously demanded to withstand traffic for an additional 20 to 25 years.”

The UT research team adopted a three-layer model for back-calculating the properties of the soil subgrade and pavement layers, instead of the old two-layer model that combined cement and asphalt into one.

Chou said the new design reduces on average about five inches of overlay thickness, and the reduction of each additional inch of overlay can save approximately $120,000 per mile.

“In addition to being more environmentally friendly, the potential cost savings can be substantial considering each year ODOT rehabilitates several hundred miles of existing composite pavements by laying additional asphalt on top,” Chou said.

The revised design procedure was implemented into design software that adopts the improved back-calculation model. The software also offers an optional feature that takes into consideration the effects of temperature.

The Ohio Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration sponsored the UT research.

“This UT research developed a revised rehabilitation design procedure for composite pavement structures in Ohio and more accurately characterizes pavement layers for this analysis,” Patrick Bierl, pavement design engineer and pavement rating coordinator in ODOT’s Office of Pavement Engineering, said. “This revised procedure allows ODOT to continue to produce efficient and cost-effective rehabilitation designs to manage our composite pavements.”

National science leader and Toledo native to deliver UT commencement address Dec. 15

The head of the nation’s oldest and one of its most prestigious laboratories will return home, as Toledo native Michael Witherell is set to deliver the address during The University of Toledo’s undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 15.

Witherell, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in Berkeley, Calif., will address 1,474 candidates for degrees, including 1,437 bachelor’s and 37 associate’s candidates. The event will take place at 11:30 a.m. in Savage Arena on Main Campus.

Witherell

UT’s graduate commencement ceremony is scheduled at 8 a.m. in Savage Arena and will commemorate 641 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates. Md Kamal Hossain, emerging cancer researcher and candidate for a doctoral degree at the University, will be the speaker.

Both ceremonies are open to the public and can be viewed live on the UT Views website.

Witherell, a distinguished physicist, educator and science leader, developed the foundation for his future at Toledo’s St. Francis de Sales High School. Salutatorian at age 15, he earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in experimental physics from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After a distinguished career as a university professor performing research in particle physics, he devoted himself to leading large research institutions.

In 2016, Witherell was named director of Berkeley Lab, the oldest of the 17 labs in the
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories systems. Berkeley Lab is a global leader in fundamental and applied scientific research in physical, biological, energy, computing and environmental sciences. The lab’s employees have earned 13 Nobel Prizes and played a role in the discovery of 16 elements on the periodic table, among its honors. The lab is managed for the DOE by the University of California.

“Our mission at Berkeley Lab is solving the nation’s most challenging problems through great scientific and technological discoveries. I believe that the national assets in addressing these problems include public universities and the students whom they are educating,” Witherell said.

Before joining Berkeley Lab, Witherell spent six years as director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. He was vice chancellor for research at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he also held a presidential chair in the Physics Department.

His primary research interest is in studying the nature of dark matter. He was a contributor to the LUX experiment, which in 2016 published the most sensitive search for interactions of dark matter particles with normal matter. He is now part of an international research team that is building a successor to LUX, known as LZ, which will be three orders of magnitude more sensitive. Data collection is expected to start in 2020.

Witherell is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He chairs the Board of Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies and serves on the National Academies’ Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy.

“As a nationally recognized, public research university, The University of Toledo is pleased to have Dr. Witherell as our fall commencement speaker. Research not only helps us to discover new knowledge that advances all areas of study, but also instills critical thinking skills that our students can use to approach problems systematically and come up with solutions that improve everyday life,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “We look forward to Dr. Witherell sharing his insights with our graduates, especially since he grew up in Toledo and has since made tremendous contributions through research.”

Witherell’s personal success can be traced back to the Glass City, as well. He and his wife, Elizabeth Hall Witherell, head of the Princeton Edition of Henry Thoreau’s writings, grew up in the same west Toledo neighborhood and were high school sweethearts. They have a daughter, Lily.

“The foundation for my career and life was my extended family in Toledo,” Witherell said. “Their support and the value they put on education and public service were central to my personal and professional development.”

Hossain

Hossain, the graduate ceremony speaker, is a native of Dhaka, Bangladesh, who came to UT as an industrial pharmacist with a passion to develop innovative medicines.

“I’ve always been interested in studying health-related fields due to the suffering of people in my homeland from different types of disease,” Hossain said. “My focus is to develop a specific targeting approach for a more effective cancer vaccine. My research examined the utilization of a natural antibody already present in human serum that makes the vaccine more convenient to target tumor cells.”

He is a candidate for a doctor of philosophy degree in medicinal chemistry in UT’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

UT’s fall commencement ceremonies will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies; Health and Human Services; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

The College of Law will host its commencement ceremony Sunday, May 5, at 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Later that week — Friday, May 10, at
4 p.m. — the College of Medicine and Life Sciences will hold its commencement ceremony in Savage Arena.

For more information, visit the UT commencement website.

Bioengineer to receive international award for work in orthopaedic mechanics

Dr. Vijay K. Goel will be honored by the government of Dubai this month with the Hamdan International Award for Medical Research Excellence for his lifelong work in orthopaedic mechanics.

Goel, Distinguished University Professor and Endowed Chair and McMaster-Gardner Professor of Orthopaedic Bioengineering at The University of Toledo, was nominated for the award by UT President Sharon L. Gaber.

Goel

“This is a noteworthy award. Many of the previous winners are among the world’s top physicians and researchers. They really pick the cream of the cream,” Goel said. “I’m very honored, very excited, and very proud to have been selected. From my perspective, it is the cumulation of all the work I have done that helped me to get this award.”

The Hamdan International Award for Medical Research Excellence was established in 1999 by Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the United Arab Emirates vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, to recognize those behind transformative medical research that serves the interests of humanity.

This year’s conference and awards are focused on musculoskeletal disorders, rheumatology, orthopaedics and orthopaedic mechanics. Goel is set to receive the award at a ceremony Dec. 12.

“I’m helping several institutions in India to establish bioengineering programs, and I hope with this award I may be able to help Gulf countries establish programs as well,” he said.

Goel joined The University of Toledo in 2000 after 18 years at the University of Iowa. He also spent three years as a research associate in the Department of Orthopedics at Yale Medical School.

Goel holds 18 patents and has been involved in establishing several companies, including OsteoNovus Inc. and Spinal Balance Inc. He recently received an Ohio Faculty Council Technology Commercialization Award from the Ohio Department of Higher Education for his work in developing and commercializing the Libra Pedicel Screw System.

UT engineering students to show off senior design projects Dec. 7

From biofuels to a collapsible wind turbine, dozens of senior design projects will be on display Friday, Dec. 7, from noon to 3 p.m. in Nitschke Hall at The University of Toledo.

The CodeWeGo team is, from left, Rita Ablordeppey, Zach Podbielniak, Carla Marzari and Jake Perkins.

A design team made up of students in the UT Department of Engineering Technology has created a multi-lingual web platform that is already in the startup phase due to assistance from UT’s LaunchPad Incubation Program. CodeWeGo is a senior capstone project for Carla Marzari, Jacob Perkins, Zachary Podbielniak and Rita Ablordeppey.

“The team has developed a scalable web application to assist non-English-speaking users to learn how to code using their native languages, including Spanish and Chinese. The project uses front-end framework React and Golang/Node programming languages,” Dr. Weiqing Sun, associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology, said.

The free, public exposition showcases projects created by more than 250 graduating seniors from the departments of Bioengineering; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Engineering Technology; and Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

As part of these projects, students form business-consulting units develop a solution for a client’s technical or business challenge. Businesses, industries and federal agencies sponsor the projects required for graduating seniors in the UT College of Engineering.

The expo also will showcase 12 freshman design projects and feature the High School Design Competition for area high school students from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Success story: UT alum, Grypmat inventor to speak Nov. 29

An alumnus of both The University of Toledo and its LaunchPad Incubation Program, whose invention called the Grypmat is on the cover of Time magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2018” issue, is returning to his alma mater to inspire future entrepreneurs.

Tom Burden, who graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology, will speak at a free, public event Thursday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m. in the Launchpad Incubator Space on the second floor of Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex at 1510 N. Westwood Ave. Networking will start at 5:30 p.m.

The UT Engineering Leadership Institute is hosting the discussion titled “Idea to Invention of the Year.”

“Tom’s success with the Grypmat is incredible,” UT Vice President for Research Frank Calzonetti said. “We are proud of what he has accomplished as an entrepreneur, but not surprised. He won UT’s Pitch & Pour competition while he was a student here, and he also returned last year to serve as a judge for the annual business pitch contest.”

Burden was recently listed in Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30, and the Grypmat was named one of Time magazine’s Best Inventions of the Year.

He plans to discuss his experience taking his product idea to market, including how he landed a deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and built a team.

“The University of Toledo and the city of Toledo have many opportunities that I used to make my way to where I am now,” Burden said. “I am passionate about education, helping future generations of entrepreneurs, and giving back to the people who supported me.”

The Grypmat, which Burden designed as a solution to mechanics frustrated by their tools sliding off aircraft while they work, is a flexible, non-slip tool mat made of a unique polymer-silicone blend that helps grip tools and keep them in place at extreme angles of up to 70 degrees.

The product is popular with aircraft, boat and car mechanics. Burden also said he is working with NASA for its use on spaceships.

UT student receives Google Women Techmakers Scholarship

Naba Rizvi is one of 20 students who received the Google Women Techmakers Scholarship this year. The $10,000 award includes a scholar retreat and connects the winners with Google scholars around the world.

At the retreat in August, the UT sophomore majoring in information technology in the College of Engineering and other scholarship recipients visited the Google campuses, including the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif.

UT student Naba Rizvi rode a bicycle outside the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., before posing for a photo with the other Google Women Techmakers Scholarship recipients during a retreat in August.

“It was an incredibly motivating and empowering experience to be surrounded by people who shared my interest in technology and passion for breaking barriers in computer science,” Rizvi said. “I met some very incredible people who I am sure I will be friends with for years to come.”

“We are proud of Naba Rizvi, who is a very deserving recipient of the Google Women Techmakers Scholarship,” Dr. Michael Toole, dean of the UT College of Engineering, said. “It is an honor to have one of our students selected as one of 20 women in the country to receive this award, and it shows the strength of our Engineering Technology Department in the College of Engineering.”

“Naba has made a tremendous impact on the community of women in tech at The University of Toledo. In addition to her role as the founder of the UT Association of Computing Machinery Women’s Chapter, she has been at the forefront of several initiatives related to tech on campus,” Dr. Lesley Berhan, associate dean for diversity, inclusion and community engagement in the UT College of Engineering, said. “We are incredibly proud of her as UT’s first recipient of this prestigious scholarship.”

The criteria for the scholarship include having a strong academic record, technical experience, financial need, and passion for increasing diversity in computer science.

Naba Rizvi found the Pakistan flag during International Village, an event organized by the International Student Association and held in the Thompson Student Union.

“At the retreat, we networked with fellow scholars, students in Google’s CodeU program and Google engineers,” she said. “The retreat had a strong emphasis on professional development, and we had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions, such as ‘The Art of Networking,’ a resumé workshop and a careers panel.”

Information technology wasn’t always the desired career path for Rizvi. She first majored in political science.

“Prior to attending UT, I was at a community college in Michigan and really confused about what direction I wanted to take with my career,” she said.

Rizvi completed a research fellowship at the University of Michigan, but technology challenged her creative mind. “Technology allows me to combine my creative problem-solving skills with my interest in helping humanity,” she said.

The University of Toledo was a place where Rizvi could follow her dreams. She was impressed with the scholarships and opportunities that UT offers.

“For me, enrolling at UT was the fastest path to becoming financially independent since I knew I could support myself with scholarships, internships and on-campus employment.”

Rizvi is a Pakistani citizen who has moved around a lot.

“I was born in Pakistan and lived there until I was around 3 and moved to Saudi Arabia. I spent my teenage years in Canada and moved to Michigan when I was 19,” she said.

Toledo feels like home these days. At the University, she is chief operations officer for CodeWeGo, a startup she launched with UT students Carla Marzari and Yizhen Shi. The education-technology company seeks to increase diversity in computer science by breaking language barriers.

“I am going to devote the next few years of my life completely to my startup and am so excited to see where this journey takes me,” Rizvi, a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College, said.

In addition, Rizvi is founder and chair of the Association of Computing Machinery Women’s Chapter, a web developer for the College of Engineering College Computing, and a resident adviser for MacKinnon, Scott and Tucker halls.

UT Leadership Institute 2018-19 class announced

Last year, 21 faculty from across the University participated in the second year of the UT Leadership Institute.

The program was launched in fall 2016 by UT President Sharon L. Gaber and Provost Andrew Hsu to provide professional development to help prepare future academic leaders.

“We started this program to help our fantastic faculty members develop into future academic leaders,” Gaber said. “We believe the UT Leadership Institute accelerates success in higher education administration.”

“For faculty who are interested in exploring leadership opportunities in higher education administration, participation in the UT Leadership Institute is an excellent opportunity,” Hsu said. “Our third cohort of faculty represents faculty from eight colleges and University Libraries. I look forward to the many contributions they will make as emerging leaders of the University.”

Following a competitive application process, a third cohort of 22 faculty members was selected to participate in this year’s UT Leadership Institute. This year’s participants are:

• Dr. Ammon Allred, Philosophy, College of Arts and Letters;

• Dr. Jillian Bornak, Physics, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics;

• Dr. Lucinda Bouillon, School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Services, College of Health and Human Services;

• Dr. Maria Coleman, Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering;

• Dr. Joan Duggan, Medicine, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Kevin Egan, Economics, College of Arts and Letters;

• Dr. Michael Ellis, Medicine, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Rodney Gabel, School of Intervention and Wellness, College of Health and Human Services;

• Dr. David Giovannucci, Neurosciences, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Lynn Hamer, Foundations of Education, Judith Herb College of Education;

• Dr. Dana Hollie, Accounting, College of Business and Innovation;

• Dr. A. Champa Jayasuriya, Orthopedic Surgery, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. David Kennedy, Medicine, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Lisa Kovach, Foundations of Education, Judith Herb College of Education;

• Sarah Long, School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Health and Human Services;

• Julia Martin, University Libraries;

• Amy O’Donnell, Management, College of Business and Innovation;

• Dr. Jorge Ortiz, Surgery, College of Medicine and Life Sciences;

• Dr. Youssef Sari, Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences;

• Dr. Rebecca Schneider, Curriculum and Instruction, Judith Herb College of Education;

• Dr. Qin Shao, Mathematics, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and

• Dr. Puneet Sindhwani, Urology, College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

The first meeting of this year’s UT Leadership Institute cohort was held Oct. 5 and will be followed by monthly meetings throughout the academic year.

Participants will discuss various aspects of leadership in higher education and engage in discussions with members of the UT leadership team and invited speakers, with presentations focusing on leadership styles, critical issues facing administrators, funding, and diversity and inclusion.

President Sharon L. Gaber, second row standing at right, posed for a photo with most of the members of the 2018-19 class of the UT Leadership Institute during last month.

UT professor honored for technology commercialization efforts

Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey presented the 2018 Ohio Faculty Council Technology Commercialization Award to The University of Toledo’s Dr. Vijay Goel in Columbus Oct. 12.

Goel was recognized for his accomplishments toward the development and commercialization of the Libra Pedicle Screw System, which is being used in a growing number of hospitals and spinal surgery centers.

Goel

He has been a professor of bioengineering at the University since 2001 and has demonstrated outstanding success in translating his research into patented technologies that serve as a foundation for commercial ventures. He directs the Center for Orthopaedic Research Excellence that brings together UT faculty from a number of disciplines, such as engineering, medicine, kinesiology and physical therapy. He is an inventor on 42 invention disclosures at the University, has 25 issued patents, and the Libra pre-sterilized pedicle screw system is being widely used in trauma, deformity and degenerative applications in the spine.

In nominating Goel for the award, UT Provost Andrew Hsu wrote, “He contributes to the UT mission in many ways, but he is exceptional in his ability to translate his funded research into licensing and commercialization opportunities.”

“I am honored to receive this Technology Commercialization Award on behalf of UT and my bioengineering colleagues and collaborators, Dr. Anand Agarwal, Dr. Sarit Bhaduri and several others,” Goel said. “As faculty researchers, we look for opportunities to solve problems. I am proud we were able to do that with LIBRA to combat contamination in the operating room and a few other FDA-approved products, the bases for the two startups, Spinal Balance Inc. and OsteoNovus Inc.”

Dr. Jay Lee from the University of Cincinnati also was recognized as the runner-up for this year’s award. He was honored for his development of Watchdog Agent — a collection of machine learning and artificial intelligence software tools that can be customized for predictive health monitoring and diagnosis of equipment and systems in many diverse applications.

The Ohio Faculty Council launched its annual Technology Commercialization Award in 2016 to recognize a faculty member in the state university system for exceptional research discoveries and the role they have played in supporting the translation of those discoveries into marketable products and/or services.

“The public university system of Ohio is a critical incubator for innovation and the Ohio Faculty Council embraces the opportunity to recognize the role that our world-class faculty play in economic development,” said Dan Krane, chair of the Ohio Faculty Council. “Dr. Goel’s and Dr. Lee’s work are outstanding examples of the ingenuity and entrepreneurship taking place on campuses across the state that are greatly facilitated by our institution’s investment in higher education and commitment to academic freedom.”

The Ohio Faculty Council represents the faculty at all of the four-year public universities in the state. It addresses concerns common to faculty members across Ohio and presents a faculty perspective on major issues affecting higher education. It is committed to supporting and bringing attention to the critical role that Ohio’s institutions of higher education play in revitalizing the economy of the state and the nation by attracting and training an educated workforce. Learn more at ohiofacultycouncil.org.