UTSA’s Office of Commercialization and Innovation honored faculty, staff and student achievements on Tuesday at the university’s seventh annual Innovation Awards. The event celebrated 42 members of the research community for their contribution and the successful commercialization of novel ideas and inventions.
The culmination of the awards was the selection of Stanton F. McHardy as the 2019 Innovator of the Year. The award is based on a number of factors, including technology disclosures, patent filings, issued patents, licenses and overall innovation and ideation.
McHardy is a professor of research, an associate professor of chemistry and director of UTSA’s Center for Innovative Drug Discovery, a joint venture between UTSA and UT Health San Antonio. The center provides a diverse array of core facilities and expertise to facilitate the translation of basic scientific discoveries into tangible preclinical candidate drugs that can be further developed into clinical therapies for human disease. An active researcher, he has brought over $10 million of research funding in the past few years. His patent application for small molecule drugs for the treatment of obesity and neurological diseases was recently licensed by Ridgeline Therapeutics.
UTSA also recognized members of its research community in three additional categories, reflecting the university’s success at commercializing new knowledge and technologies.
“These awards not only recognize the UTSA research community’s accomplishments but also serve to inspire researchers to take a transdisciplinary approach to their work and create collaborations outside their disciplines and fields,” said Bernard Arulanandam, vice president for research, economic development and knowledge enterprise. “Our goal is to foster a research-intensive environment where faculty and students can flourish and their work can address society’s big challenges. Arulanandam was also recognized for being the latest inductee into the National Academy of Inventors.
The keynote speaker for the evening, Maria Zannes, is CEO of BioAffinity Technologies, which specializes in noninvasive, early stage cancer diagnostics and targeted therapeutics. Zannes has more than 30 years of executive-level management experience. An attorney who specialized in regulatory law, she has worked as a top aide in the U.S. Congress; directed efforts leading to federal and state agency approvals; and successfully lobbied numerous state legislatures, Congress, and federal administrations. BioAffinity resides in UTSA’s New Venture Incubator, directed by the Office of Commercialization and Innovation.
OCI provides UTSA students, faculty and staff with commercialization assistance and nurtures university-industry partnerships. Services include intellectual property management and licensing, proof-of-concept development, new venture incubation, entrepreneurial training, and policies and procedures that accelerate and ease the transition of intellectual property and technologies from the university to industry.
“By highlighting the commercialization successes of the UTSA community, we hope it serves to inspire more people as new therapeutics, innovative materials, and other products designed to improve our lives are developed,” said Christine Burke, director of commercialization and tech transfer.