Four Rutgers professors have been honored by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame for innovations as diverse as leukemia-fighting drugs, hardy and faster growing cranberry plants, computerized voice recognition and shellfish genetics.
Ximing Guo, professor of molluscan genetics and aquaculture, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Ximing Guo started working on shellfish genetics and breeding in China more than 20 years ago. His focus on oysters has led to commercially viable breeding technologies and disease-resistant oyster strains. He and former Rutgers colleague Standish Allen founded a company, 4Cs Breeding Technologies, Inc., to bring their genetic innovations to market.
Richard Mammone, professor, Rutgers Business School and School of Engineering
Richard Mammone is an expert in speaker verification and recognition technologies, and co-founder of a company, Speakez Inc., based on technology he co-invented. He also founded two other technology-based companies. Mammone also serves as associate vice president for innovation in the Rutgers Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.
Scott Kachlany, associate professor of oral biology, microbiology and molecular genetics, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine
Scott Kachlany discovered a natural protein that in laboratory tests shows significant anti-leukemia activity. The protein, called leukotoxin, comes from a bacterium that causes oral disease. Through his company, Actinobac Biomed, Inc., he developed the drug Leukothera to treat leukemia and lymphoma, and is examining how the drug may be used to fight autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. The company is also looking at the drug’s potential in veterinary medicine.
Nicholi Vorsa, research professor in plant biology and pathology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Nicholi Vorsa developed new cranberry hybrids that help growers increase production and improve fruit quality for the popular Thanksgiving side dish that’s also consumed year-round in juices, fruit drinks, and “craisin” snacks. He was responding to cranberry growers in New Jersey and elsewhere who were struggling with increases in labor, fuel and material costs along with stringent environmental regulations. Vorsa, also director of Rutgers’ Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research, patented “Crimson Queen” and other hybrids that deliver higher yields, ripen earlier in the season, and have vines that grow faster and resist weeds and disease better than traditionally planted varieties.
Guo, Mammone and Vorsa received “Inventor of the Year” awards from the Hall of Fame, and Kachlany received the organization’s “Innovators Award.” Guo’s collaborator and business partner, Standish Allen, also received Inventor of the Year recognition.
Another former Rutgers professor, physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, received the organization’s “Trustees Award.” She is now president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“These inventors illustrate the pioneering contributions that Rutgers makes in an amazing variety of fields, including computing technologies, health care, and life sciences,” said Kenneth J. Breslauer, Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development and Linus Pauling Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. “Rutgers faculty members have made innumerable contributions to the economic development of our state, and beyond.”
– Carl Blesch, Ed Tate and Jeff Tolvin