Office of Research & Development
Office of Research & Development
February 17, 2023
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.
January 12, 2023
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.
September 28, 2022
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.
September 16, 2022
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.
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
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.
September 8, 2022
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.
August 11, 2022
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.
July 18, 2022
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.
July 13, 2022
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.
July 13, 2022
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.
April 29, 2022
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.
February 28, 2022
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.
July 6, 2021
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.
June 14, 2021
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.
March 25, 2021
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.
January 12, 2021
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.
December 28, 2020
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.
August 21, 2020
(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.
July 17, 2020
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.
May 1, 2020
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.”
March 31, 2020
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.
March 24, 2020
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.
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.
February 25, 2020
(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.