Science & Technology

R&D Council of NJ Announces 2020 Thomas Edison Patent Award Winners

Special Awards for Dr. Roger Perlmutter, President of Merck Research Laboratories, Dr. Joachim Messing of the Rutgers Waksman Institute, and Dr. Dawood Farahi, Former President of Kean University

The Research & Development Council of New Jersey announced the 2020 Thomas Edison Patent Award winners, along with the special individual honorees. These honorees include Merck Research Laboratories President Dr. Roger Perlmutter, former Rutgers Waksman Institute President Joachim Messing (posthumously), and former Kean University President Dawood Farahi. This year, 14 patent awards cover a wide range of research, all of which will be highlighted at the annual Thomas Alva Edison Patent Awards Ceremony on Nov. 12, 2020.

This year’s patent awards go to American Standard part of LIXIL, Avaya Inc., BASF Corporation, Colgate-Palmolive, Ethicon, Inc. – a Johnson & Johnson Company, ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Company, Merck & Co., Inc., New Jersey Institute of Technology, Nokia Bell Labs, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratories, Princeton University, Rowan University, Siemens Corporate Technology, and Stevens Institute of Technology. The patents range from the development of a biomaterial that helps to prevent surgical bleeding to a water-efficient, gravity-powered, siphon-inducing toilet product.

Winners were selected from nominations that were reviewed 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. A complete list of winners, patent names, and numbers can be found below.

“Even in this pandemic environment in which we now live, we need to recognize the research that is continuing to shape our future that will have an impact on the post pandemic era,” said Dr. Kevin Campos, chairman of the board of the R&D Council and Merck & Co., Inc. associate vice president, Process Research & Development.

As we concentrate on the pandemic environment in that we find ourselves, the theme for this year’s Thomas Edison Patent Awards is “Transforming Hope into Action.” No one depicts this theme better than Dr. Roger Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories. He will receive the Chairman’s Award for his world-renown work in guiding the research of one of this world’s foremost pharmaceutical companies. In particular, his leadership directing the Merck team on the oncology product Keytruda®, which is having a significant impact in cancer care throughout the world. In addition to his work in industry, Dr. Perlmutter started his career in academia and served as head of the departments of immunology, biochemistry and medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The Science and Technology Medal will be given posthumously to Dr. Joachim Messing. Dr. Messing, former director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and the Waksman chair of Molecular Genetics at Rutgers University, made seminal contributions to the development of genomics and biotechnology. His work as a translational scientist contributed directly to breakthroughs in global issues, including food security and cancer therapies. While still a research fellow, Dr. Messing began work on what would become “shotgun DNA sequencing,” a pioneering cloning technology that transformed genomics and was quickly adopted across the life science research community. Messing’s technological innovations for sequencing of genomes in complex organisms has supported explosive growth in genomics, provided the basic biotechnology used in the human genome project, has led to significant nutritional improvements in agriculture worldwide, and is contributing to life-saving biomedical therapies. Dr. Messing passed away in 2019. The Council is honored to recognize his incredible legacy with this award.

Finally, this year’s Educator of the Year Award goes to Dr. Dawood Farahi who recently retired from his role as president of Kean University. During his seventeen-year tenure as president, he completely transformed the University, both physically through his expansion of facilities and dormitories, and academically through his emphasis on establishing curricula related to STEM majors, the latter of which is critical to future workforce preparedness. Dr. Farahi also partnered with the Ministry of Education of China to launch Wenzhou-Kean University, opening a whole new world of learning for students at Kean who could study abroad, and for students from China who were able to spend semesters at Kean.

The 41st Edison Patent Awards Ceremony themed “Transforming Hope into Action” will take place virtually on November 12th. Tuning into the ceremony will be hundreds of representatives from the largest research organizations in the world, including some of New Jersey best academic minds, policymakers, students and other supporters. During this ceremony each award winner will have a special tribute film premiered in their honor.

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