Leaders at Janssen, Merck, Comcast to get highest individual honors at Edison Patent Awards

R&D Council of N.J. event also will honor 10 companies and 3 universities for groundbreaking patents

Janssen leaders Dr. Macaya Douoguih and Remo Colarusso, Merck Executive Chairman Kenneth Frazier and Comcast’s digital divide efforts will be given the three top individual awards at the 42nd annual Thomas Edison Patent Awards — the event by the Research & Development Council of New Jersey that honors the top leaders in innovation in our state.

Teams from Avaya, BASF, Celularity, Ethicon, ExxonMobil, Merck, Nokia Bell Labs, Princeton, Rutgers University, Siemens Healthineers, Siemens Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology and Stryker also will be honored at a ceremony for their groundbreaking patents.

The event will be held Nov. 18 at the Liberty Science Center.

About the R&D Council

The Research & Development Council of New Jersey collaborates among industry, academia and government to grow and strengthen STEM in education, innovation and the economy. The R&D Council is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose membership includes representatives from academia, government and industry, including several Fortune 500 companies.

Winners were selected by a team of R&D Council researchers who evaluated patents for the significance of the problem, utility/socio-economic value, novelty and commercial impact.

Dr. Kevin Campos, chairman of the R&D Council board of directors and vice president, head of process research and development at Merck, said the state’s history of innovation continued despite the pandemic.

“The global pandemic has not stopped New Jersey scientists and researchers from collaborating and creating over the past 18 months,” he said. “Research continues to excel in the state, made clear through incredible work by this year’s Edison Patent Award winners. Thomas Edison’s legacy of innovation continues to thrive in laboratories and research spaces throughout New Jersey.”

The 2021 Thomas Edson Patent Awards highlight the significant local to global contributions of many New Jersey companies, associations, and institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the contributions of the individual award winners, including:

  • The Science and Technology Medal: The R&D Council’s highest award will honor the Janssen leaders who were part of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine. Douoguih, head of Janssen clinical development and medical affairs, vaccines, and Colarusso, vice president of Janssen Supply Chain, were integral in the research and delivery of the highly effective, one-shot COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Chairman’s Award: Frazier will be honored for spearheading a partnership with Johnson & Johnson to manufacture the J&J COVID-19 vaccine. Not since World War II has this type of collaborative effort been seen between companies in the U.S. Frazier will be honored for his leadership in securing this agreement, which is helping to bring the vaccine to people all over the world.
  • Educator of the Year Award: Comcast will be honored for working to close the digital divide for New Jersey students. The COVID-19 pandemic has served as an accelerant to correcting a long-existing problem, where many of the state’s children from low-income families do not have access to technology to effectively learn at home. By providing free and/or low-cost internet access to low-income families, Comcast minimized the digital divide so more New Jersey students could learn and engage online while school buildings were closed. Comcast has committed an additional $1 billon to create and support digital equity.

In addition to these awards, the R&D Council and the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey have combined efforts to highlight New Jersey’s COVID-19 response by those within the health care field.

“New Jersey life sciences companies, health care and academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations have played a critical role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” R&D Council President Anthony Cicatiello said.

“It is high time that New Jersey citizens learn of the extraordinary efforts made by those within this industry to protect our communities, care for patients and innovate therapies to combat this deadly virus. We look forward to showcasing these efforts during the Patent Awards.”

A look at the 2021 Edison Patent Award Winners

Avaya and inventors Harsh V. Mendiratta and Tibor Lukac will receive a patent award in the Information Technology category for “IP Tolerance and Signaling Interworking” (U.S. 10,931,720). This invention allows devices with the addressing systems IPv4 and IPv6 to coexist and communicate with each other with ease. This work supports legacy devices without any modification while accommodating the ever-changing approaches of the newer devices. This technology has already successfully been implemented into the Avaya product family. Without the need to replace legacy devices, corporations can be more efficient, and resources do not have to be wasted.

BASF and inventors Shiang Sung, Stanley Roth, Claudia Zabel, Susanne Stiebels, Andreas Sundermann and Olga Gerlach will receive a patent award in the Environmental Controls category for “Manganese Containing Diesel Oxidation Catalyst” (U.S. 10,335,776). This patent involves creating a new support material for precious metals used in the automotive exhaust treatment system. This support has a high thermally stable surface area and the acidity needed for stabilizing platinum. By adding a multivalent transitional metal dopant, such as manganese, on the refractory high surface area alumina support, platinum can then be stabilized, producing a sufficient amount of nitrogen dioxide and enabling the exhaust treatment system to meet the regulation limits. This will reduce pollution, resulting in a healthier environment.

Celularity Inc. and inventors Dr. Robert J. Hariri, founder, chairman and CEO of Celularity, Lin Kang, Bhavani Stout, Vanessa Voskinarian-Berse, Xiaokui Zhang, Mohammad A. Heidaran, Stephen Jasko, Eric Law, Ajai Pal and Andrew Zeitlin will receive a patent award in the Emerging Therapy category for “Method of Generating Natural Killer Cells” (U.S. 9,464,274). This work establishes methods to expand placenta-derived hematopoietic stem cells and their subsequent differentiation into natural killer cells, which are being investigated as potential treatments for hematologic malignancies, solid tumors and infectious diseases. In contrast to most transplantations, placental-derived cells are allogeneic, meaning they are intended for use in any patient, as compared to autologous cells, which are derived from an individual patient for that patient’s sole use. Celularity believes this is a key difference that will enable readily available off-the-shelf treatments that can be delivered faster, more reliably, at greater scale and to more patients.

Ethicon Inc. (a Johnson & Johnson company) and inventors Allen Wang and Gary Zhang will receive a patent award in the Medical Health category for “Oxidized Regenerated Cellulose Hemostatic Powders and Methods of Making” (U.S. 9,539,358). This invention relates to a powdered hemostatic material with significantly enhanced properties to effectively control bleeding during surgical procedures. Starting with oxidized regenerated cellulose, one of the main absorbable hemostatic materials in the surgeon’s toolbox, the inventors were able to develop this new and highly beneficial powdered form of ORC, composed of compacts or aggregates of ORC fine fibers. The unique structure of the powder penetrates the surface of the blood to get to the sources of bleeding. The powder is proven to have significantly shortened the time to hemostasis. This biomaterial engineering advancement greatly increased the surgeon’s ability to deploy ORC-based hemostatic materials to stop bleeding. This medical device has served hundreds of thousands of patients shortly after launch and is projected to impact millions of surgical procedures in the near future.  The trademark associated with this patent is SURGICEL Powder.

ExxonMobil Research and Engineering and inventors Kenneth Kar and Sheryl Rubin-Pitel will receive a patent award in the Environmental Process category for “Modification of Fuel Oils for Compatibility” (U.S. 9,803,152). This invention was in response to sulfur limits placed on marine fuel by the International Maritime Organization. It details the discovery and methodology of working with one of the main challenges of lower sulfur, which is fuel compatibility and sediment. This technology helps shipping companies to follow mandates set forth by the IMO to reduce sulfur oxide emissions from the marine transport industry.

Merck & Co. Inc. and inventors Yang Cao, Donald R. Gauthier Jr., Guy Humphrey, Tetsuji Itoh, Michel Journet, Marguerite Mohan, Gang Qian, Benjamin D. Sherry and David M. Tschaen will receive a patent award in the Pharmaceutical Process category for “Process for Making Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors” (U.S. 9,598,397). This patent displays the commercial manufacturing process for doravirine, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor for the treatment of HIV. This process falls under Merck’s goal to create an innovative, green-by-design program that attempts to ensure that every step of their products’ creation is sustainable. The two trademarks associated with this product are PIFELTRO and DELSTRIGO.

Nokia Bell Labs and inventors Joon Ho Cho and Yannick Lefevre will receive a patent award in the Telecommunications category for “Partial Probabilistic Signal Shaping” (U.S. 10,200,231). This invention provides a practical method for approaching the theoretical maximum data rate of information transmission in digital communications systems by partially shaping the probability distribution of the communication symbols. This has been adopted by the ITU-T G.9711 MGfast standard to make multigigabit Internet services more widely available, particularly at locations where it is impractical or not cost effective to bring fiber up to the end-user.

Princeton and inventors Marcus Hultmark, Clay Byers, Yuyang Fan and Matt Fu will receive a patent award in the Enabling Technology category for “Elastic Filament Velocity Sensor” (U.S. 10,539,443). This technique to measure fluid velocity can be used to create small, easy to make and inexpensive sensors. By relying on viscous forces, these sensors are extremely sensitive to small flow rates. This technology has the potential to cut sensor costs from thousands of dollars to less than a dollar for numerous industries, such as chemical manufacturing, medical devices and advanced industrial automation. With this work, the inventors have cofounded Tendo Technologies to further develop commercial products that will use this technology.

Rutgers and inventors Dr. Charles J. Gatt Jr., Eric A. Balint and Michael G. Dunn will receive a patent award in the Biotechnology category for “Bioresorbable Tissue Engineered Fibrocartilage Replacement with Three-Dimensional Matrix of Fibers” (U.S. 8,623,085). This patent describes an absorbable implant to treat meniscal tears by recreating the anatomy and fiber geometry of the meniscus. The implant reduces stress on knee cartilage and induces formation of functional neo-meniscus tissue, restoring knee mobility and potentially preventing development of osteoarthritis after severe meniscus injury. This device can lessen or even entirely rid the need for total knee replacement surgery, which has generally been the solution for severe osteoarthritis. This will not only benefit the well-being of patients but cut much of their health care costs. The patent has been exclusively licensed by NovoPedics Inc., which is currently performing preclinical studies on the patented device, trademarked as MeniscoFix.

Siemens Healthineers and inventors Florin-Cristian Ghesu, Bogdan Georgescu, Sasa Grbic and Dorin Comaniciu will receive a patent award in the Medical Technology category for “Spatially Consistent Multi-Scale Anatomical Landmark Detection in Incomplete 3D-CT Data” (U.S. 10,373,313). The patent describes a novel artificial intelligence framework for the real-time detection of anatomical landmarks in medical images. This technology provides a state-of-the-art ground layer for AI applications aiming to help radiologists gain efficiency and accuracy in reading and interpreting medical images.

Siemens Technology and its inventors Ulrich Muenz, Xiaofan Wu and former employee Mohit Sinha will be recognized, along with Siemens Smart Infrastructure inventor Joachim Bamberger, with a patent award in the Energy category for “Communication-free Decentralized Control Framework for Unit Commitment in Microgrids” (U.S. 10,951,035). Their work aims to prevent power issues in emergencies, such as natural disasters and cyberattacks. What makes this solution unique is that it is entirely communication-free and decentralized. Therefore, each generation unit determines when to turn on and off based on local metrics. This will reduce power outage times and allow critical buildings to continue to have power in times of emergency.

Stevens Institute of Technology and inventors Woo Young Lee, Linh Tung Le and De Kong will receive a patent award in the Technology Transfer category for “Graphene-based Films in Sensor Applications” (U.S. 9,178,129). The device disclosed in this patent is an environmental sensor made up of a graphene film, which acts as an environmentally responsive element in the sensor. Sensors that can detect changes in temperature, humidity, pressure, stress and other environmental factors are in great demand in numerous applications. For example, the technology has been used to create a wearable system to monitor changes in foot health for diabetic patients at risk of developing foot ulcers. The trademarks associated with this product are Flextrapower and Bonbouton.

Stryker’s Joint Replacement division and inventors Carlos Collazo and Damon Servidio, both senior principal engineers, will receive a patent award in the Medical Device category for “Void Filling Joint Prosthesis and Associated Instruments” (U.S. 10,335,171). The associated trademark is the Triathlon Tritanium Cone Augment. Triathlon Tritanium Cone Augments are designed to provide structural support to knee implants, with the solid titanium inner surface optimized for cement adhesion. Triathlon Tritanium Cone Augments are produced using additive manufacturing technology, a state-of-the-art technique that uses a computer model of an implant and grows the part layer by layer in a three-dimensional environment. With Triathlon Tritanium Cone Augments, metaphyseal defects are managed using a reamer-based prep method, which may minimize fracture risk and reduce excess bone reaming.