CCI Honors Inventors at the 2018 Innovators Awards Reception

CCI Honors Inventors at the 2018 Innovators Awards Reception

On May 16, Cleveland Clinic Innovations hosted the Innovators Awards Reception to recognize and celebrate the active Cleveland Clinic inventors and successes from the past year.  The event, which took place at the InterContinental Hotel, was held in conjunction with National Inventors Month.

“We always try to recognize and show our appreciation for Cleveland Clinic inventors throughout the year,” said Pete O’Neill, Executive Director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations. “National Inventors Month and our annual reception, however, give us a special opportunity to reflect on the incredible privilege to work with such world class thought leaders across the enterprise.”

The 2018 Innovator Awards marked the inaugural presentation of the Hickey Family Foundation’s Innovation Impact Award, which was created to reward and sustain the caregivers that are using innovation to provide better care to regions around the world, our community, and the most vulnerable patients. Nancy Baldwin, the foundation’s Executive Director, presented the award to Hani Najm, MD, of the Heart & Vascular Institute for his stented pulmonary autograft prosthesis device for children suffering from mitral valve disease.

“Dr. Najm’s valve prosthesis device hopes to offer a scaffold that is partially absorbable and expandable and can grow along with these young patients, giving them the quality of life they deserve,” said Baldwin.

Innovation Awards were then presented to inventors who have demonstrated creativity and persistence in their pursuit to advance care in the categories of Medical Devices, Therapeutics & Diagnostics, Health IT, and Delivery Solutions. CCI also looked into its crystal ball to identify caregivers that has a long and remarkable innovation career ahead. The reception also honored perhaps the “Greatest of All Time” in Cleveland Clinic’s innovative history, Dr. Toby Cosgrove.

The Innovation Award winners are below.

Outstanding Innovation in Medical Device: Tom Gildea, MD, Respiratory Institute

For years, Tom Gildea, MD, had been looking to get beyond the one-size-fits all approach to airway stenting. Most stents are cylindrical, rigid tubes that generate scar tissue and significant discomfort for patients who are suffering from a variety of breathing disorders that can be caused by inflammation, a tumor, or a mass. Intent on fixing this problem, Dr. Gildea combined CT scanning and 3D printing to develop stents that are specifically designed for the patient. The stent has already had dramatic results. “With a typical stent, we expect to remove it within 40 days due to the discomfort,” said Dr. Gildea. “With the custom stent, we removed it after 14 months.” In his acceptance of the award, Dr. Gildea credited the infrastructure at Cleveland Clinic to get this new technique to patients in a short period of time, specifically with the help of CCI and Medical Device Solutions at Lerner Research Institute. As of May of 2018, 5 patients have received a custom stent.

Outstanding Innovation in Health Information Technology: Robb Colbrunn, PhD, Lerner Research Institute

Robb Colbrunn, PhD, was brought to Cleveland Clinic over 12 years ago when the Department of Biomedical Engineering purchased a new robot for simulating joint loads to enhance its understanding of orthopaedic biomechanics. Robb’s directive shifted dramatically over the years from simply making the robot work to changing the way orthopaedic research is done all of the world. The software he developed, called simVITRO, made Cleveland Clinic’s robots faster, easier to use, and flexible in its ability to apply dynamic loads. Recognizing the shared need for these types of capabilities in research labs all over the world, Robb began commercializing the simVITRO software package alongside Cleveland Clinic Innovations in 2013. Robb not only built software that was customizable, but also built a robust team in Tara Nagle and Callan Gillespie who work with Robb to help customers answer their most pressing clinical questions using simVITRO.  simVITRO is now in over a dozen labs in North America, Europe, and Australia. In addition to biomechanical testing of joints, Robb has also been approached by those in the manufacturing, product testing and surgical robotics fields who recognize the value of having a robot capable of real-time force-feedback control with minimal programming efforts.

Outstanding Innovation in Therapeutics & Diagnostics: Nima Sharifi, MD, Lerner Research Institute

Dr. Sharifi and his lab are transforming the way we think about prostate cancer treatment. Dr. Sharifi discovered a major metabolic pathway that tumors utilize for dihydrotestosterone (DHT) synthesis, which circumvents the requirement for testosterone.  He then discovered the first example of an enzyme missense that elicits DHT synthesis and clinical development of castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).  He also discovered a series of new abiraterone metabolites that impinge on the androgen pathway and modify response directing the way to new approaches for treating prostate cancer where current standard of care such as androgen deprivation therapy often fail. Dr. Sharifi’s discoveries have turned heads in the oncology industry, resulting in an exclusive license in 2017.

Outstanding Innovation in Delivery Solutions: Carol Santalucia, Office of Patient Experience

Effectively communicating compassion and empathy for patients and their families can be challenging for caregivers. For over twenty years, Carol has been intent on changing that. As co-creator of the Communicate with H.E.A.R.T.® program, Carol wanted to develop easy-to-remember tools that could empower employees to address patient needs and respond in a way that the person feels he or she was responded to with care. The internal success of these tools led to the idea to translate the H.E.A.R.T. programs to other organizations in 2013.  Since then, H.E.A.R.T. has been adopted by over 30 systems worldwide. In 2017, Carol developed Lead with H.E.A.R.T.® , a program that gives leaders within organizations the skills to encourage and sustain a culture of compassionate communication. This new program has already been adopted by a number of institutions with many more on the horizon.

Young Innovator Award: Nitin Yerram, MD, Anup Shah, MD, Residency Fellowship

Dr. Nitin Yerram and Dr. Anup Shah are currently resident fellows at Cleveland Clinic, and have quickly made waves in the Clinic’s innovation community. They are being recognized for their efforts to design and develop a minimally invasive device to treat urethral strictures, a technique that has the potential to transform the standard of care. Dr. Yerram and Dr. Shah have been working on this device alongside Cleveland Clinic Innovations for over a year, despite their busy schedules as resident fellows in the urological and general surgery departments. “They are approaching the problem of urethral strictures with the ideal mix of clinical expertise, patient compassion, fresh thinking, and entrepreneurial energy,” said Ryan Nowicki, Innovation Manager at Cleveland Clinic Innovations. “Their future is certainly bright.”

Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Toby Cosgrove, Former CEO & President

The award of the evening was given to Cleveland Clinic’s former CEO & President, Dr. Toby Cosgrove for his innovations throughout his illustrious career as a surgeon at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Cosgrove has earned over 31 U.S. patents for a wide variety of surgical technologies. His inventions included the flexible annuplasty ring, which was developed to reinforce the annulus in a mitral valve repair, and the left atrial appendage clip, which has been implanted in over 125,000 patients as of March 2018. Dr. Cosgrove also developed the Cosgrove retractor that helps to better expose the right and left atria during mitral valve surgery, as well as a cardiopulmonary bypass system that uses vacuum-assisted venous drainage, and his novel flexible clamps for aortic occlusion, among many more.

In a recent interview, Dr. Cosgrove said of his innovative tenure “my strength lies solely in my tenacity.” As Peter O’Neill concluded, this tenacity has been illustrated by each of the winning inventors and the many others that have found success by innovating at Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic Innovations is honored to play a role in continuing Dr. Cosgrove’s innovative legacy.

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