Innovation Awards celebrate Mason researchers


On May 9, George Mason University celebrated its research enterprise with Innovation Awards, recognizing the Innovator of the Year and a Mason start-up, and those who received and/or licensed a patent.

Buschman's team accepts the Innovator of the Year award
Michael Buschmann's team accepted the Innovator of the Year award from Vice President Andre Marshall (holding plaque) on his behalf. Photo by John Boal Photography

According to David Grossman, senior director of technology transfer and industry collaboration in Mason’s Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Impact, this was the first time since 2010 that the university formally recognized researchers. Going forward it will be an annual event.

“At the Mason Innovation Awards, we were privileged to recognize the tireless pursuit of knowledge and the transformative impact of our faculty’s discoveries,” said Grossman. “Through their dedication, these researchers are helping shape the world with their groundbreaking technologies and pushing the boundaries of what is possible."

The Innovator of the Year Award was awarded posthumously to Michael Buschmann, Eminent Scholar and the former chair of the Bioengineering Department within Mason’s College of Engineering and Computing. Buschmann help found the start-up AexeRNA Therapeutics Inc., in partnership with the university’s Office of Technology Transfer. He and his team licensed the commercial rights of four patents to the company. The technology AexeRNA is working on will make mRNA vaccines less costly and more readily available worldwide. Members of Buschmann’s AexeRNA team were recognized at the ceremony.

Jafri with his award
Saleet Jafri was awarded the Mason Start-up Award. Photo by John Boal Photography

The Mason Start-up Award was presented to Saleet Jafri, director of Mason’s Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience and professor in the School of Systems Biology, College of Science, for his company Pathodynamics. Pathodynamics has licensed three Mason patents and is developing a technology that solves the problem of cancer drug resistance, which is responsible for more than 90% of cancer deaths. Jafri has also received a Small Business Innovation Research award for the technology and is working with the Virginia Small Business Development Center’s Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP).

University Professor Lance Liotta, cofounder and codirector of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, was recognized with a Mason Lifetime Disclosure Award. During his career, Liotta has filed more than 120 patent disclosures. Disclosures are the first step toward a patent by making a public claim about an invention or discovery. Liotta has 100 inventions to date and the prototype of one of these inventions—Laser Capture Microdissection, a method to procure subpopulations of tissue cells under direct microscopic visualization—is in the Smithsonian Institution’s collection.

Lance Liotta accepts the Disclosure Awards
Lance Liotta (left) and David Grossman holding Liotta's Lifetime Disclosure Award. Photo by John Boal Photography

During the program, Gisele Stolz, senior director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programs at Mason, was recognized for recently receiving an Impact Award from the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative for mentoring students. Stolz has helped place more than 150 Mason students in internships with cyber-related start-ups.

Participants of the Virginia SBDC ICAP and national I-CORPS programs and Mason researchers who have patented or licensed a technology or invention were also recognized.

The awards for patents and licensed technologies are Plexiglas hexagons with magnets so researchers can add to their award over the years as they receive patents/licensing.

A list of those Mason researcher licensing technologies follows.

Mason Licensed Technology Awards

“Microscopic Particles for Target Bio-markers,” licensed to Ceres NanoSciences
Lance Liotta, Emanuel Petricoin, Alessandra Luchini Kunkel, Barney Bishop, Virginia Espina, Marissa Howard, and Fatah Kashanchi

“Self-Cleaning Intrusion Tolerance” licensed to SCIT Labs
Arun Sood

“Pre-Shot Sniper Detection” licensed to First Guard Technologies
Kenneth J. Hintz

“Cauldron” licensed to Cyvision Technologies
Sushil Jajodia

“Antiretroviral Compositions” licensed to Lentx
Yuntao Wu

“Biological Materials” licensed to Kera FAST
Barney Bishop, Monique van Hoek, Robin Couch, and Yuntao Wu

“Atomic Magnetometer” licensed to Twinleaf
Karen Sauer

“Protein–Protein Interactions” licensed to EMD Millipore
Alessandra Luchini Kunkel, Lance Liotta, and Virginia Espina

“Antiretroviral Cyclonucleotides” and “Pseudovirus Platform” licensed to Virongy
Yuntao Wu and Brian Hetrick

“Packet Flow Watermarking” licensed to CyberRock Tech
Xinyuan Wang

“Encryption IP Cores” licensed to Chaologix
Gaj Krzysztof and Panasayya Yalla

“Personalized Therapy” licensed to Avant Diagnostics
Emanuel Petricoin and Julia Wulfkuhle

“Thromboembolism Sleeve” licensed to Phase II Consulting and Staffing
Lance Liotta and Marissa Howard

“Laser Capture Microdissection” and “Tissue Molecular Profiling” licensed to Targeted Biosciences
Lance Liotta, Alessandra Luchini Kunkel, Virginia Espina, Amanda Nicole Haymond Still, Marissa Howard, and Philip Andrew Pappalardo

“Cancer and HIV Therapeutics” licensed to Targeted Pharmaceuticals
Catherine DeMarino, Fatah Kashanchi, Lance Liotta, and Virginia Espina

“HIV Vaccine” licensed to Viropeutics
Yuntao Wu

“Protein Painting” licensed to Monet Pharmaceuticals
Alessandra Luchini Kunkel, Amanda Nicole Haymond Still, Lance Liotta, Mikell Paige, and Virginia Espina

“Antidepressant Selection” licensed to Teahorse
Farrokh Alemi

“Honeybee Hive Therapy” licensed to Tri-State Proteomics
Alessandra Luchini Kunkel, Lance Liotta, and Rocio Solange Prisby

“mRNA Delivery Lipids” licensed to AexeRNA Therapeutics
Michael Buschmann, Mikell Paige, Suman Alishetty, and Manuel Carrasco

“COVID Contact Tracing” licensed to Vericord
Farrokh Alemi and Janusz Wojtusiak

“Wearable Devices for Managing Substance Abuse” licensed to LifeSpan Digital Health
Holly C. Matto and Padmanabhan Seshaiyer

“Precision Oncology” licensed to Pathodynamics
Mohsin Saleet Jafri and Soukaina Amniouel