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What's New in the VA Technology Transfer Program

FLC Podcast: Leading with Vision: Dr. John Kaplan on Growing the VA's T2 Program

July 2, 2024

John Kaplan, PhD, JD

John Kaplan, PhD, JD

When John Kaplan, PhD, JD, took the helm at the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) Tech Transfer Program (TTP), it was his first job in T2. But with his diverse background from the Air Force to patent law and extensive leadership experience, Kaplan transformed the overwhelmed program into a flourishing success story. He shares how he did it, his advice to leaders and his plans for the future of the VA TTP. Listen

TTP Welcomes Ms. Anne Burkhart

May 7, 2024

Anne Burkhart, JD

Anne Burkhart, JD

Ms. Anne Burkhart joined the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Technology Transfer Program (TTP) in May 2024 as the Field Technology Transfer Specialist in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ms. Anne Burkhart is a registered US Patent Attorney and a member of the Illinois Bar. Before joining the VA, Anne served a number of years in the Technology Transfer Office at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). Anne worked on hundreds of innovations with UIC faculty from a wide range of colleges including the College of Medicine, College of Dentistry, College of Engineering, College of Nursing and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Anne also served several years as internal patent officer and Intellectual Property (IP) attorney for a global medical device company before joining UIC. Anne has extensive IP experience with medical device technologies, software including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), therapeutics, and other technologies. Ms. Burkhart has served as a speaker at the annual Licensing Executive Society (LES) meeting in 2023, and for the World IP Review (WIPR) Summit in Chicago on a variety of topics including AI and licensing innovations from universities.

Anne has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Cincinnati. Anne attended law school in the evenings while working full-time as a patent agent at a Chicago law firm.

Anne comes from a military family. Her father served in Korea, and her brother is an Army Veteran.

TTP Welcomes Ms. Loraine Kelley

May 6, 2024

Ms. Loraine Kelley

Ms. Loraine Kelley

Ms. Loraine Kelley joined the Department of Veterans Affairs Technology Transfer Program (TTP) in May 2024 as a Program Specialist.

Ms. Kelley joined the Marine Corps in June 2001 immediately following high school. After serving in the Marine Corps, Ms. Kelley became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and started teaching at the local community college's EMT department, and teaching CPR and First Aid to the public. In 2012, Ms. Kelley joined the Tucson, Arizona VA Medical Center starting as a phlebotomist. Thereafter, at the Tucson VAMC, Ms. Kelley transitioned to the Cardiology Department and then the Critical Care Department as a program support assistant.

Ms. Kelley enjoys baking, reading, and outdoor activities. Ms. Kelley has a degree in the culinary arts and uses that knowledge to make yummy treats for friends and family members.

Ms. Kelley currently lives in Tucson, Az with her husband, her daughter, and four dogs.

VA TTP Wins 2 FLC 2024 Awards

January 31, 2024

The VA Technology Transfer Program (TTP) is thrilled to have received two FLC 2024 awards: 1) Excellence in Technology Transfer for TrackMate: The World's First Disinfection Tracking System, and 2) Technology Transfer Innovation Award for the VA T2 Auditing Program. VA TTP will be recognized alongside fellow 2024 award winners from a range of federal agencies at the FLC Awards Ceremony on April 10th, 2024, sharing the stage with the nation's best in tech transfer. FLC 2024 will be the 50th anniversary of this meeting, highlighting how VA TTP's success will be added to decades of innovative achievements.

Marine Spec Ops vet + VA program bring hi tech medical camera to all Americans

January 12, 2024

Marine Corps Spec Ops vet Derek Herrera has built a business around a digital skin inspection tool, known as the "Habit Camera" thanks to a partnership with VA's Technology Transfer Program. Learn more

VA TTP Featured in Military Officer Magazine

January 8, 2024

For an article January 2024 issue of Military Officer Magazine, reporter Ms. Hope Seck interviewed Dr. Chetan Jinadatha to discuss the history behind his recently commercialized invention TrackMate, and how the VA Technology Transfer Program (VA TTP) supported its intellectual property protection and market launch. Seck also spoke with VA TTP Director Dr. John Kaplan about the growth of the program since he joined in 2016, highlighting the exponential increase in invention disclosures, royalties, patents, and license agreements. Dr. Rory Cooper, Director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) discussed how his lab has supported VA research and encouraged innovation amongst Veterans. Additionally, Field Technology Transfer Specialist Bhoomija Hariprasad provided commentary on current trends in invention disclosures inspired by the 2022 passage of the PACT Act. Overall, this article captured how VA TTP has gone above and beyond to patent and commercialize VA research.

TTP Welcomes Dr. Robert Masterson

November 27, 2023

Dr. Robert Masterson

Dr. Robert Masterson

The VA's Technology Transfer Program (TTP) welcomes Dr. Robert Masterson to the Office of Research and Development as a member of the TTP family as the Field Technology Transfer Specialist in Nashville, Tennessee.

As a serial life science entrepreneur, Robert has leveraged technology transfer processes from universities to license novel technology and launch companies including Prevencio, Inc. (Kirkland, WA) and Opticyte, Inc. (Seattle, WA). Dr. Masterson's expertise spans ideation, invention disclosures, patents, business development and commercialization strategies.

Serving as an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA) and Oregon Health & Sciences University (Portland, OR), Dr. Masterson shared his knowledge of technology transfer and commercialization processes with clinicians, faculty members, and students, including participating in and leading innovation workshops. Robert received a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Washington (Seattle, WA) and a Ph.D. in Genetics from Iowa State University (Ames, IA).

TTP Welcomes Dr. Richard J. Bodnar

September 25, 2023

Dr. Richard J. Bodnar

Dr. Richard J. Bodnar

The Technology Transfer Program (TTP) family welcomes Dr. Richard J. Bodnar to the Office of Research and Development (ORD) as the Field Technology Transfer Specialists (TTS) in Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Bodnar will be working on Mr. David Mark's team. Prior to joining TTP, Dr. Bodnar was the Director of Imaging Center and managed the Basic Science Laboratory at the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System from 2017-2023. From 2015-2017, Dr. Bodnar was a Senior Research Consultant for Reace Consulting. In this position he worked with investigators from the University of Pittsburgh and University of Cincinnati on grant and manuscript preparation and startup companies on protocol development. Dr. Bodnar was also a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and held a faculty position at the Veterans Affairs Hospital at Pittsburgh for 9 years. He was also faculty at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Center for Vascular Remodeling and Regeneration. He received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh in Biochemistry and Biophysics and his PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology. The research preformed in Dr. Bodnar's laboratory investigated the regulation of angiogenesis, specifically aiming to identify the resident molecules that can be used to improve the wound healing process and treat diseases resulting from pathological neovascularization. Dr. Bodnar was a recipient of a Department of Veterans Affairs grant, Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA F32, University of Pittsburgh Pathology Research Training Awards. Dr. Bodnar was member of the Veterans Affairs Biosafety committee, ad hoc reviewer for the Veterans Affairs R&D Competitive Pilot Project Fund and Department of Pathology Research Training Grant committees. He is also a reviewer for the Journal of Wound Repair and Regeneration, Advances in Wound Care, PLoS ONE, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology and Cells Tissues Organs. He served as the Junior Co-Chair for the University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Association from 2004-2006 and Chair of the National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting 2004-2006. He was the 2008 recipient of the UPPDA Postdoc Alumni and Patriot award. Dr. Bodnar is a founding member and sits on the board of the charity Footsteps to the Future.

VA TTP interviews licensee Xenex about launched product TrackMate

TTP Welcomes Mr. John Beard

July 19, 2023

John Beard, MBA

John Beard, MBA

Mr. Beard joins the VA’s Technology Transfer Program (TTP) as a Field Technology Transfer Specialist based in Little Rock and serving VA medical centers located in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Mr. Beard has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and an MBA, both from the University of Arkansas Little Rock.  Mr. Beard spent 20 years working in the field of ovarian cancer research and in vitro diagnostics development. During this time, he is listed as co-inventor on five US patents, negotiated multiple licensing agreements for a start-up biotech company, and developed six in vitro diagnostic assays for the detection of proteins overexpressed by ovarian and aggressive prostate cancer.  Mr. Beard spent the past four years working for the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Arkansas managing grant projects and ensuring adherence to federal regulations.

Mr. Beard has two teenage children and enjoys music, reading, golf, and spending time with friends and family.

VA Central Texas doctor invents hospital disinfection tracking system

June 29, 2023


Photo curtesy of Xenex Disinfection Services.

Dr. Chetan Jinadatha of the VA Central Texas Healthcare System invented a device to track the disinfection of portable medical equipment, which will help reduce the spread of infections in hospitals. TrackMate, licensed for production by Xenex Disinfection Services, is a small device that connects to equipment such as IV pumps and vital monitoring machines. It senses moisture from liquid cleaning chemicals or UV light irradiation to keep a log of cleaning, allowing health care workers to quickly see the disinfection history of a piece of equipment before moving it to a new patient’s room. Studies have shown that using TrackMate doubled the amount of equipment cleanings. The device stores data both locally and online, allowing for easier record keeping and compliance monitoring. TrackMate is the world’s first automated disinfection tracking system. (Business Wire, June 26, 2023)

VA TTP BRAVE Funding – Now Accepting Applications

June 1, 2023

The VA Technology Transfer BRAVE Funding Program is an intramural funding mechanism through which eligible VA inventors can receive up to $100,000 to support continued innovation and development of VA owned, or jointly owned, intellectual property assets to better position their technology for commercialization and impact –  Bringing Research Advancements for Veterans to Everyone!

Generally, these projects fall into one of the following categories:

  • Minimum Viable Prototype production
  • Prototype testing 
  • Clinical grade prototype production 
  • Chemical synthesis and testing 
  • in vitro proof of concept testing 
  • ex vivo proof of concept testing 
  • in vivo animal model testing 
  • Pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic testing 
  • Clinical pilot study 
  • Equipment and/or reagents to develop a prototype or to support one of the above categories
  • Other commercially relevant aims

Learn more about BRAVE.

TTP Welcomes Dr. Nicholas Cilz

February 17, 2023

Dr. Nicholas Cilz

Dr. Nicholas Cilz

Dr. Nicholas Cilz is the new Field Technology Transfer Specialist in Minneapolis. Dr. Cilz completed his PhD in Pharmacology, Physiology, and Therapeutics at the University of North Dakota. His research background is in neurophysiological mechanisms underlying learning, memory, and neuropsychiatric disorders. As a postdoctoral scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, Dr. Cilz researched roles of the neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin in social memory. In 2020, he transitioned to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and became an examiner working in a biotechnology arts unit where he examined many patent applications related to gene therapies. After leaving the USPTO, he returned to the NIH to work as a fellow in technology transfer at the National Cancer Institute. At the NCI, he facilitated execution of numerous transactional agreements and assisted other dockets involving cell therapy technologies. Dr. Cilz enjoys evaluating new technologies to understand where the inventive concept exists and determining whether there is market potential for commercialization. He is excited to apply and build upon his diverse experience in research and technology transfer in his new role as a Field Technology Transfer Specialist at the Minneapolis VAMC.

Outside of work, Nick enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, traveling, and catching a new movie or live musical performance.

TTP Welcomes Bhoomija Hariprasad

January 12, 2023

Bhoomija Hariprasad

Bhoomija Hariprasad

Bhoomija Hariprasad joins the VA’s Technology Transfer Program (TTP) as a Technology Transfer Specialist based in Houston and serving VA medical centers located in Texas.

Bhoomija has a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Louisiana State University and a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering from University of Houston where her research was focused on nanobiomaterials for drug delivery. She then worked in UT Health Houston studying inflammatory diseases and completed additional graduate coursework at Wake Forest School of Medicine where she accumulated extensive research experience in organ-on-chip technology and glioblastoma studies. She will bring her scientific background to her new translational role.

Outside of work, Bhoomija enjoys reading, hiking, songwriting, and playing guitar.

TTP Welcomes Todd Bell

September 28, 2022

Todd Bell

Todd Bell

Todd Bell joined the Department of Veterans Affairs Technology Transfer Program (TTP) in September of 2022 as a Program Specialist.

Todd has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Southeast Missouri State University and is currently studying to obtain COMP-TIA and Microsoft certifications.  He will soon resume his studies for a Master’s in Health Care Administration.

Prior to joining the VA, Todd served 4 years in the USAF, several years working with adolescents recovering from substance abuse and being the Director of a day habilitation center for developmentally disabled adults.  Todd joined the VA in 2015 with the Office of Community Care and then transitioned to the Office of Patient Advocacy in 2019 as a Patient Advocate with the Eastern Colorado HCS.

Todd is married and the father of two adult children and has one grandchild who is truly the center of his universe.  He also enjoys hiking the mountains, woodcraft and sightseeing, as well.

TTP Welcomes Paige Zimerman, Trina Voss, and Renee N. Shaw

September 16, 2022

Paige Zimerman

Paige Zimerman

Paige Zimerman joins the VA’s Technology Transfer Program (TTP) as a Technology Transfer Specialist to serve VA medical centers located in Missouri.

Paige has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Lindenwood University, and a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from Lindenwood University.

Paige comes from a strong military background and knew working for VA would be a natural fit. She has been with VA for 5 years and has held positions with Whole Health, Pharmacy, and Research. Her previous position portfolios bring a wealth of knowledge to this new role.

Paige has been married to her husband Ben for 4 years. They have two boys, Conrad, and Axel. She enjoys participating in triathlons, outdoor actives, and spending time with her family.

Trina Voss

Trina Voss

Ms. Trina Voss joins the VA’s Technology Transfer Program (TTP) as a Technology Transfer Specialist at the Portland VA Medical Center to work with medical centers in the Pacific Northwest. Trina has bachelor's degrees in zoology and biology with computer information systems and German language minors from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. She received an Associate’s degree in Arabic language from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. She completed graduate coursework at Moss Landing Marine Labs through California State University, Monterey Bay. 

Ms. Voss likes to refer to her "checkered past" and feels the diversity of her experience has contributed directly to her success in technology transfer. She comes to TTP from 11 years at Oregon Health & Science University, where she negotiated agreements in support of research and evaluated and licensed OHSU inventions. Her experience includes copyright materials licensed to non-profit organizations, biological materials licensed to pharma companies, high technology patents licensed to Fortune 500 companies, and biomedical devices licensed to early-stage startups. She is a Registered Technology Transfer Professional and a Certified Licensing Professional. Before OHSU, she was a licensing specialist at the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation at the University of Southern California. Before finding a career in technology transfer, Ms. Voss worked in commercial real estate leasing, was an interrogator in the US Army, and managed a scuba diving shop next to North America's number one shore dive.

In her spare time, Ms. Voss runs a small family dairy goat farm located outside of Portland, Oregon. She shares a multigenerational home with five humans, over 100 Nubian dairy goats, a small herd of hair sheep, dogs, cats, honey bees, chickens, and Muscovy ducks. She makes goat milk soap and chevre chocolate chip cookies. She feels blessed to live in such a beautiful area and spends as much time as possible in the local state parks and forests.

Renee N. Shaw

Renee N. Shaw

Ms. Renee N. Shaw joins the VA's Technology Transfer Program (TTP) as a Field Technology Transfer Specialist in Atlanta, Georgia.

Renee N. Shaw, JM, is a 2020 graduate of Emory University School of Law with a specialty in Health Care Regulation and Patent Law. She has an extensive service history in Emory's School of Medicine, Spelman College Dept. of Chemistry, and Emory's Office of Technology Transfer. Renee also possesses a BS in Zoology from Iowa State University, a BS in Information Technology from DeVry University, and is currently completing an MPH from Emory's School of Public Health. Her research interests include intellectual property, technology transfer, cancer biology, and health policy. When the opportunity arises, Renee enjoys dancing Argentine Tango and indoor sky diving.

TTP Welcomes Dr. Rebecca Holmes

September 8, 2022

Dr. Rebecca Holmes

Dr. Rebecca Holmes

Please welcome Dr. Rebecca Holmes to the Technology Transfer Program (TTP) team and ORD family as a Field Technology Transfer Specialist to serve the VA Chicago Health Care System.)

Rebecca joins the TTP team from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Office of Technology Management. As a Technology Commercialization Fellow at UIC, she worked closely with faculty and the Technology Manager team to support the commercialization of UIC’s intellectual property assets to address unmet needs.

Rebecca completed her B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow in Scotland and completed her postdoctoral training at Queen Mary, University of London, and Northwestern University. Her research focused on understanding and harnessing the regenerative properties of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells for medical applications.

In 2018 she worked part time as a Marketing Specialist in the Innovation and New Ventures Office at Northwestern University, to develop descriptive marketing materials for innovative technologies and to create and implement marketing strategies that identify and attract potential licensees.

She is a current member of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) and Women in Bio.

TTP Welcomes Kristine Moes

August 11, 2022

Kristine Moes>
<p style= Kristine Moes

Kristine Moes joined the Technology Transfer Program (TTP) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Research and Development in August of 2022 as a Technology Transfer Specialist to serve VA medical Centers located in Florida.

Kristine has a Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Central Florida, and a Juris Doctorate from Stetson University College of Law. It was during her final year of law school where her love for technology transfer became apparent, she interned with the University of South Florida (USF) Technology Transfer Office.

Prior to joining the VA, Kristine was a Licensing Associate at USF for five years. At USF Kristine started as part of the Physical Sciences team but quickly showed that she had knowledge useful in medical device technologies. Her docket became a combination of physical and life sciences. She was responsible for managing her portfolio of technologies from initial disclosure through licensing and the maintenance of the licenses. She has expertise in the areas of patent prosecution, license negotiations, start-up business development, and marketing.

Kristine is a new mom to a little boy and when she doesn’t have her hands full with him, she enjoys deep sea fishing, white water rafting, participating in marathons, and other outdoor activities.

TTP Welcomes Mr. Richard Vermillion

July 18, 2022

Mr. Richard Vermillion

Mr. Richard Vermillion

Mr. Richard Vermillion joins TTP as the Field Technology Transfer Specialist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina.  In 2015, Richard began working in the Radiology Department at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center as the Tele-Radiology Program Manager. Since 2018 he has been the Administrative Officer for Research at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Mr. Vermillion is always looking to collaborate with colleagues to provide innovate technical solutions to solve some of his medical center’s complicated clinical and non-clinical issues. He has sat on Technology Operations Optimization Boards and has actively collaborated locally and nationally with VACO on developing and enhancing technological tools to advance the agency.  Mr. Vermillion has been serving in the United States Air Force for more than 20 years and is the Senior Enlisted Leader for the 944th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix AZ.  He was a F16 Fighter jet crew chief for 9 and a half years, and he has been a heavy vehicle mechanic for almost 12 years. Mr. Vermillion graduated from The Citadel with a BS in Business Administration. Mr. Vermillion just returned from his 9th deployment and is married to his wife of 12 years, Jessica Vermillion. They have one daughter, Emerson, and three boys, Hudson, Easton and Hayden.

VA researchers invent drug to treat polycystic kidney disease

July 13, 2022

VA researchers invent drug to treat polycystic kidney disease

Photo: ©Getty Images/Mohammed Haneefa Nizamudeen

VA Salt Lake City researchers have created a new drug for treating polycystic kidney disease. The disease is a genetic disorder wherein cysts form in the kidneys. There is presently no cure for the disease. Treatment options are limited and come with undesirable side effects. About half of patients with polycystic kidney disease develop end-stage renal disease, which requires dialysis or kidney transplant. The newly patented VA treatment aims to prevent or at least slow cyst growth in the kidneys using a drug called a platelet aggregation inhibitor, which lowers levels of the hormone arginine vasopressin. This is the second patent issued to VA researchers for the use of a drug called tricagrelor for treating polycystic kidney disease. VA’s Technology Transfer Program is offering a license agreement for drug companies to further develop the drug into an available treatment.

FDA grants fast-track review for VA-developed drug to treat rare inflammatory disorder

July 13, 2022

VA researchers invent drug to treat polycystic kidney disease

Photo: ©iStock/MagicMine

The FDA has granted fast-track review for a drug developed by Central Texas VA Health Care System researchers to treat a rare inflammatory disorder. A research team led by Dr. Sharon DeMorrow created a new galanin receptor inhibitor to treat primary sclerosing cholangitis. The condition is a rare disease that scars bile ducts and can gradually cause serious liver damage. VA’s Technology Transfer Program exclusively licensed the new drug to SteroTherapeutics. The FDA recently granted the new drug Orphan Drug Designation, a status given to new therapies for rare disease that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. The orphan drug status gives the company assistance in the drug development process, tax credits for clinical costs, exemptions from certain FDA fees, and seven years of post-approval marketing exclusivity. The company will next submit an investigational new drug application to the FDA to further develop the drug.

TTP Welcomes Mr. Rowan Wagner

April 29, 2022

  Mr. Rowan Wagner

Mr. Rowan Wagner

Please welcome Mr. Rowan Wagner to the Technology Transfer Program (TTP) team and ORD family as a Field Technology Transfer Specialist to serve the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System. Mr. Wagner is a US Navy Veteran.

Mr. Wagner brings vast and rich experience in healthcare/system development to the position, which began shortly after graduating in 1999 from the University of Central Arkansas with a BS in Health Science as a Public Health Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan (KAZ 7). After completing Peace Corps Service, Mr. Wagner remained in Central Asia until 2005, working on USAID, DFID, CIDA, and World Bank local health system projects.

In 2005, Mr. Wagner participated in a Bill and Linda Gates Foundation funded South to South MPH program with BRAC University. After receiving his MPH from BRAC University in 2006, Mr. Wagner returned to Uzbekistan. He joined the faculty at Westminster International in Tashkent (WIUT) and extension university of the University of Westminster London (UOW) as a senior lecturer, teaching business strategy, program management, human resources management, and entrepreneurship, and developed in consultation with the (UOW) and lead a Master of Arts in International Business. In addition to teaching, Mr. Wagner worked with AmCham, USAID, and the British Embassy to help local business improve their capacity and enter international markets. Mr. Wagner also completed a Master’s in Management from the University of Phoenix.

After eight years with WIUT, Mr. Wagner left to pursue a Cambridge CELTA and then a Post Graduate Diploma in the Application of Nanotechnology in Medicine at the University of Oxford - Worchester College.

Returning to the US, Rowan reentered government service, joining DoD DeCA in 2018 and later transferring to the SLC VHA in 2019 to the Clinical Support Unit as an MSA and then to the Research Department as a PSA/Records Liaison in 2020.

As a Navy Veteran, Rowan is an active volunteer in his community, working with the Veterans Homeless Outreach Program and local veterans NGOs for the betterment of post-service veteran opportunities.

New invention makes using eye drops easier

February 28, 2022

 The hand-held DropEase device. Photo courtesy of VA Technology Transfer program.

The hand-held DropEase device. Photo courtesy of VA Technology Transfer program.

A nurse and case manager at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center’s eye center has invented a new device to make it easier for patients to administer eye drops. Terri Ohlinger noticed that many patients were not using their eye drops, or that they were using too much at once. Many patients with manual dexterity issues have trouble squeezing small eye drop bottles. So with the help of University of Cincinnati engineering students, Ohlinger designed a device called the “DropEase” to make the process easier. The DropEase provides a stable platform for self-administering eye drops, complete with a handle that is easy to squeeze with weak or shaky hands. The device allows users to set a metered dosage to get the proper amount of medication every time. The team designed two versions: a hand-held device and one with an applicator that can be worn like eyeglasses. Ohlinger and her VA colleagues worked with local Veterans to test the prototypes, and received positive feedback.

Ohlinger has applied for a patent with the help of VA’s Technology Transfer Program. Tech Transfer is now marketing the invention to medical device manufacturers for licensing and production.

‘Puff trigger’ device allows disabled Veterans to participate in shooting sports

July 6, 2021

‘Puff trigger’ device allows disabled Veterans to participate in shooting sports

A U.S. Veteran aims an air rifle equipped with a puff trigger. (VA photo)

An assistive device that helps disabled Veterans participate in shooting sports, invented by a VA engineer, has been licensed for commercial manufacture. Seth Hills, an engineer at the Richmond VA Medical Center, created the “puff trigger” device. Hills’ invention allows someone with limited hand or arm function to participate in shooting sports like air rifle competitions by operating the trigger with a puff of air. Ransom International Corp., an Arizona-based company, has negotiated an exclusive patent license agreement with VA to manufacture and commercialize the device. Shooting sports are very popular among Veterans, being featured in such events as the Paralympic Games and the National Veterans Golden Age Games. “Marksmanship is a unique aspect of military service, making shooting sports very popular with Veterans,” said Leif Nelson, director of VA’s Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events. “Veterans with physical disabilities have an array of shooting sports to choose from through our national rehabilitation events, as well as through their local recreation therapy teams. From air rifle and air pistol to trap shooting and laser rifle, VA has a long history of offering shooting sports programs to our Veterans. We’re excited about this new technology and the potential for more Veterans to have access to these opportunities.” The new device will allow Veterans who may not be able to physically pull a trigger because of a disability to participate in the sports.

Promising treatment for obesity developed

June 14, 2021

Promising treatment for obesity developed

Dr. BK Kishore

A promising new treatment for obesity has been developed by a VA Salt Lake City scientist. Dr. BK Kishore developed a new way to deliver drugs to act on the P2Y2 purnergic receptor, a protein receptor in the brain involved in both nephrogenic diabetes insipidus and diet-induced obesity. Targeted drug delivery allows medication to be delivered directly to the receptor. The new treatment can “effectively promote burning of excess calories and prevent fat accumulation in a relatively safe manner,” according to Kishore. He has begun a start-up company called ePurines to develop the drug, which signed an exclusive license agreement with VA through the Technology Transfer Program. The agreement allows ePurines to commercialize the purinergic signaling technology developed by Kishore while he worked at VA. VA holds the patent to the new technology. According to the CDC, 42% of adult Americans are clinically obese. About 78% of Veterans have a body mass index above 25. A pharmacological solution to obesity could have a huge impact on the health of both Veterans and the general population.

Wheelchair footplate sensor to prevent lower-limb injuries

March 25, 2021

Wheelchair footplate sensor to prevent lower-limb injuries

Photo: ©iStock/skynesher

A wheelchair device created by scientists at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center will help prevent injury to Veterans with spinal cord injury. The team developed a sensor that detects the position of a wheelchair user’s feet on the wheelchair footplate. It sends pressure and sensor data to a user’s smartphone in real-time. Patient with spinal cord injury can experience injury when using a wheelchair if they are unaware that their feet are sticking out or dragging on the ground. “Somebody would be operating usually a power wheelchair, although it has happened in manual wheelchairs as well, and their leg or foot might be sticking out from the side of the footrest,” Dr. M. Kristi Henzel, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at the Cleveland VAMC, explained to TechLink. “As they would pass through a doorway, for example, it would catch and twist the leg out, leading to injury.” To prevent this, Henzel and her colleagues designed the smart, wireless sensor to warn users foot mispositioning. The device is available for commercial licensing through VA’s Technology Transfer Program.

Clear face mask will help improve communication

January 12, 2021

Clear face mask will help improve communication

Photo by Megan Kon

A VA-invented mask that could help people communicate more easily during the COVID-19 pandemic is now closer to being available to the public. VA has reached a licensing agreement with Sports Engineering, Inc., for the Clear Talker Mask, invented at the Central Virginia VA Health Care System. The invention is made of clear plastic so that the user’s lips and face are visible. This can improve communication by making it possible to read lips and facial expressions, which cannot be done with the standard surgical masks most often being used during the COVID-19 pandemic. The mask is reusable and is designed to fit most faces. It was created by Seth Hills, Brian Burkhardt, Melissa Oliver, and John Miller at the Central Virginia VA. VA applied for a patent on the invention in September through the Technology Transfer Program. Sports Engineering will develop the product for market.

New prosthetic improves hip replacement

December 28, 2020

New prosthetic improves hip replacement

Photo: ©Stock/

A new femur prosthetic invented by Dr. Alfred Kuo of the San Francisco VA Medical Center could improve hip replacement surgery and shorten recovery time. Traditional hip replacement surgery often requires a long, painful recovery. The prosthesis designed by Kuo allows for a much shorter segment of the femur bone to be removed than previously required. Conventional hip implants need to be inserted into the femur about five to six inches. But Kuo’s prosthesis only extends into the femur by 90 millimeters, about 3.5 inches. Removing less bone can reduce blood loss during surgery and make the insertion easier for the surgeon. Implantation of the new device also calls for a much smaller incision than for previous prostheses, which makes it easier to redo the surgery if adjustments are needed. VA has filed a patent application for the invention.

VA doctor invents new mask to protect clinicians from COVID-19 infection

August 21, 2020

 (Photo by Scott Fuller)

(Photo by Scott Fuller)

A new mask design invented by Dr. Scott Fuller of the VA Northern California Health Care System could significantly improve safety during procedures of the head and neck. Fuller created a surgical mask with a nasal tube and transparent window for patients to wear. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the creation of the new mask. When performing an endoscopy, in which a fiber-optic camera is inserted into the nose or mouth of a patient, clinicians are at risk of airborne droplets that may contain the virus. Fuller’s invention blocks any droplets or particles from leaving the patient while still allowing the clinician to perform the procedure. He is working with VA’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories to develop prototypes. The Tech Transfer Program has submitted a patent application on Fuller’s behalf and is working to identify companies that can produce the masks for widespread use.

Adjustable walker moves closer to market

July 17, 2020

 Stephanie Nogan Bailey displays the self-leveling walker her team developed. (<em>VA photo</em>)

Stephanie Nogan Bailey displays the self-leveling walker her team developed. (VA photo)

An adjustable walker that will help users travel over uneven surfaces is one step closer to reaching people who need it. The Self-Leveling Walker was developed by the Advanced Platform Technology Center at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University. On level ground, it works like a regular walker. But the user can press a button to shorten the front legs and lengthen the back legs when going up a slope or steps—or vice versa when going down. The walker uses a hydraulic system built into its legs. VA and the university, which co-own the technology, have licensed it to the start-up company LevelMed Technologies to bring the walker to market. “Because there’s no safe way to use standard walkers on stairs or inclines,” explains project manager Stephanie Nogan Bailey, “we saw an unmet need for a walker that can be adjusted at any time.” The hope is that this device will give back freedom of mobility to people with injuries or movement difficulties.

VA-invented exercise device to enter production

May 1, 2020

VA-invented exercise device to enter production

An upper-limb exercise device invented by VA researchers will soon become available to patients and health care systems. The Multi-Purpose Arm Cycle Ergometer for Rehabilitation (M-PACE) allows patients with conditions such as spinal cord injury to participate in a wider range of exercise and rehab activities. Action Manufacturing Inc. and VA have reached an exclusive patent license agreement on the device. The M-PACE was created by researchers at VA’s Minneapolis Adaptive Design and Engineering Program. Prolonged bed rest due to medical treatments or conditions can lead to muscle loss and other problems. With the M-PACE, patients can exercise while lying in bed. It can also be used from a wheelchair or while standing. The device features pedals that can be used with the arms, along with several other configurations. “The M-PACE’s ability to deploy over a bed is particularly important,” explained Dr. Gary Goldish, one of the inventors, to TechLink, “because prolonged bedrest without exercise can lead to rapid deconditioning and can negatively affect many systems of the human body, including the central nervous system, digestive system, and endocrine system.”

VA researchers develop new treatment for liver disease

March 31, 2020

VA researchers develop new treatment for liver disease

Photo: ©Stock/©iStock/D-Keine

A VA research team led by Dr. Gianfranco Alpinini of the Richard L. Roudebush Indianapolis VA Medical Center created a new treatment for liver disease. Using mouse studies, the researchers found a compound that improves liver damage linked to several forms of liver disease. The drug could be used as a treatment for liver diseases such as primary sclerosing cholangitis, biliary atresia, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease is the most common type of liver disease in the Western world. VA has filed a patent for the treatment. Through Tech Transfer agreements, private businesses can now obtain rights to develop this research into life-saving medicines.

Drug shows promise in reducing deadly brain swelling after stroke

March 24, 2020

Drug shows promise in reducing deadly brain swelling after stroke

Photo: ©Stock/stockdevil

A new drug developed by VA and international partners could reduce deadly brain damage from stroke. The drug, ZT-1a, has proved effective at reducing brain swelling after stroke in animal models. It targets a pathway in the brain that controls how ions and water move in and out of brain cells. After stroke, malfunctioning proteins can allow too much water into the brain and cause dangerous swelling. ZT-1a stops these proteins from activating. Currently, invasive brain surgery is needed to alleviate this swelling. The drug was developed by an international consortium, including Dr. Dandan Sun of the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System. The consortium was made up of inventors from Xiamen University in China, Exeter University in the United Kingdom, and the VA and University of Pittsburgh. VA has filed a patent for the drug’s use as a stroke treatment.

Chip-based test for bleeding or clotting risk earns FDA ‘Breakthrough Device’ status  

March 12, 2020


An experimental portable blood-clotting sensor called ClotChip, co-owned by VA and Case Western Reserve University and licensed to the private company XaTek, now has FDA “Breakthrough Device” status. The designation speeds the development of technologies that outperform current products in treating or diagnosing serious conditions. Investigators with VA’s Advanced Platform Technology Center and CWRU developed and tested the technology. It can assess a patient’s clotting ability—based on a single drop of blood—in about 15 minutes, compared with a day or longer for existing methods. “ClotChip is designed to minimize the time and effort for blood-sample preparation. [It can] be used at the doctor’s office or other points of care for patients on anticoagulation therapy [or] antiplatelet therapy, or who have suffered a traumatic injury causing bleeding,” said Dr. Pedram Mohseni in a 2016 CWRU article.

Patent for new way to treat dangerous hospital infection

February 25, 2020

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

(Photo courtesy of CDC)

VA and the University of Maryland are joint owners of a newly issued patent (US 10,537,609 B2) for a peptide-based treatment for Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. P. aeruginosa can cause infections in the blood, lungs, or other parts of the body after surgery. At highest risk are hospital patients on breathing machines, those with catheters, and those with wounds from surgery or burns. The new potential treatment has been tested successfully in mice and is pending further study. The approach is promising because it uses a specific peptide, or a piece of a protein, to defeat the bacteria and does not rely on antibiotics. P. aeruginosa is increasingly resistant to antibiotics. In 2017, multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa caused an estimated 32,6000 infections and 2,700 deaths in the U.S. Visit VA’s partner TechLink to read more about this and other available technologies based on VA inventions and discoveries.

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