CHS hosts inaugural Jacobson Innovation Award Symposium

On Feb. 20, the UK College of Health Sciences hosted the inaugural Myron and Elaine Jacobson Innovation Award Symposium at UK's Chandler Hospital. Former UK faculty members, the Jacobsons co-founded Niadyne—a pharmaceutical development company that focuses on the discovery and development of uniquely efficacious molecules to prevent and treat skin conditions that result from an impaired skin barrier. Faculty, students, and staff gathered to learn more about how the husband-wife team have successfully traversed from scientific research to commercial ventures, and are now encouraging that same spirit of innovation at CHS. 

Fostering research and discovery is at the heart of the Jacobsons' vision moving forward. The successful commercialization of their research made possible a collection of resources for faculty and staff of the College to pursue similar paths of entrepreneurship. The resources included a Lunch and Learn series that took place over the course of 2018. Through the series, Scott Black, co-founder and president of Sword Performance Products and the director of the UK Physician Assistant Studies program; Mariam Gorjian, new ventures manager in the Office of Technology Commercialization; and Gilson Capilouto, PhD, CHS director of undergraduate research and co-founder and chief clinical officer of NFANT labs, used their experiences in entrepreneurship to provide advice regarding market research, technology assessment, business planning guidance, and marketing and funding strategies to faculty and staff who hope to pursue the same path.

As the symposium kicked off, Elaine Jacobson educated attendees on how Vitamin B3 (niacin) affects the maintenance and functions of a healthy life span. These findings are now being used for the prevention and therapy of multiple diseases known to develop with increased age. Later, Myron "Mike" Jacobson spoke about the therapeutic implications of skin barrier impairment and repair.

In addition to the symposium and Lunch and Learn series, the Jacobson Innovation Award was also established. The 2017-18 recipients of the award, Charlotte A. Peterson and Vrushali Angadi, were each invited to present about their unique projects. 

"MyoAnalytics—The Ultimate Analytical Platform for Muscle Research" is the brainchild of Charlotte A. Peterson, PhD, Joseph Hamburg Endowed Professor with the Center for Muscle Biology, and Yuan Wen, PhD, from the UK College of Medicine, whose research focuses on skeletal muscle wasting associated with injury, chronic disease, and aging. Drs. Peterson and Wen continue to expand the capabilities of the software program, MyoVision (developed by Wen), which enables precise, automated quantification of muscle properties to assess effectiveness and interventions. A dedicated workstation was established for high throughout analyses, and there has been great interest in MyoVision in the muscle research community. More than 90 labs across the world are now using the software pioneered by Peterson and Wen.

Vrushali Angadi, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor in communication sciences and disorders, developed and tested a user-friendly smartphone application for the delivery of a voice therapy program. Key features of the application include a video-modeling of the voice exercise postures for the patient, as well as the ability for the patient to send a video recording of their home practice to their clinician on a secure server. These two features were focused in the app development phase with the intent of improving patient accessibility and monitoring adherence to the therapeutic program in the most accurate fashion. Presently, there are no commercially available smartphone apps that exist for voice therapy.