The European Patent Office (EPO) announced its finalists for the 2017 European Inventor Award in the categories of Industry, Research, Non-EPO Countries, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, and Lifetime Achievement. The Award, begun in 2006, aims to pay “tribute to the creativity of inventors the world over, who use their technical, scientific and intellectual skills to make a real contribution to technological progress and economic growth and so improve people’s daily lives.” While any member of the public can nominate someone for the award, the EPO and an international jury evaluate submissions based on technical originality as well as economic and social impact. The Award winners will be announced at a ceremony in Venice, Italy on June 15th.
This year, three inventors from the United States were honored as finalists in the Non-EPO Countries category of the competition: Dr. James G. Fujimoto, Eric A. Swanson, and Dr. Waleed Hassanein.
Dr. Fujimoto and Swanson are being honored together along with German Physicist Robert Huber for the development of optical coherence tomography (OCT). First prototyped in 1993,
OCT was the first medical imaging technique that allowed visualization of soft tissues in real-time with microscopic detail. Originally developed at MIT by Dr. Fujimoto and Swanson in order to diagnose glaucoma, the technology quickly expanded to cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and dermatological applications.
Dr. Fujimoto is currently a professor at MIT while Swanson received his MS from MIT in 1984; both have received numerous awards and recognition for their pioneering work on OCT.
Dr. Huber brought advances in imaging speed to cardiovascular OCT and joined the team at MIT from 2003 to 2005. He continues to advance OCT technology at his company Optores GmbH.
Dr. Waleed Hassanein is being honored for developing the Organ Care System (OCS), a technique for preserving human organs outside the body three times longer than traditional cold storage. Dr. Hassanein originally developed the technique to store human hearts at Georgetown University by focusing on using warm environments and surrounding the heart with nutrient-rich blood. Implemented clinically in 2007, OCS is now used for human lung and kidney storage as well.
The additional time that an organ remains viable due to OCS presents a significant breakthrough for transplants. With a longer duration of viability outside the human body, organs can now be transported further and doctors can now accurately assess the suitability of a new organ before re-implantation. Today, Dr. Hassanein is the CEO, President, and Director of TransMedics, the company he founded to commercialize the concept of “living organ transplants” for the improvement of clinical practice.
Link: European Inventor Award…