With top Birmingham business leaders and community luminaries looking on, the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HIIE) team celebrated a year of focused growth while also looking forward to 2023 and its limitless potential.

After a two-year hiatus, the HIIE reinstated its yearly Innovation Awards, honoring campus inventors leading the way in scientific discovery.

HIIE Executive Director Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., led the awards program, saying, “This is a way for us to recognize just how important innovation and research is here at UAB. Your success is our success.”

Award categories and winners included:Anath Shalev won the EntrepreHER Award.Anath Shalev, left, won the EntrepreHER Award during the Innovation Awards.

  • Start-Up of the Year, ResBiotic. ResBiotic, a company that creates science-backed, clinically tested over-the-counter probiotics to support gut, lung, and immune health by targeting the gut microbiome, was founded by UAB Assistant Professor Vivek Lal. ResBiotic’s success has led to another spinout company, Alveolus Bio, which focuses on drug development.
  • Community Partnership of the Year, First Avenue Ventures. Last year, First Avenue Ventures launched a multimillion-dollar life science fund with a focus on research developed at UAB. The fund’s first investment was actually in fellow Innovation Award winner ResBiotic.
  • EntrepreHER Award, Anath Shalev. Shalev, director of the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center, has three decades of experience in diabetes research and in developing d­­isease-changing therapy regimens. She is also the founder of TIXiMED, a UAB start-up focused on developing oral medications for diabetes. 
  • Most Prolific Inventor, James Kirklin. In the 2022 fiscal year, Kirklin disclosed five intellectual properties, more than any other inventor on UAB’s campus. He and his team are also launching a start-up at the beginning of 2023.
  • Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, IN8bio – IN8bio was founded with the mission of developing next-generation cellular therapies for treating cancer by using gamma-delta T cells. The company spun off intellectual property developed by Lawrence Lamb, Ph.D., a former UAB associate professor of medicine who is a leader in the field of gamma-delta T cells. IN8bio completed an initial public offering of 4 million stock shares in August 2021 and is preparing to advance their programs into phase 2 clinical trials in brain cancers next year.

Patrick Murphy, Ph.D., the Goodrich Endowed Chair of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, closed the award program by naming Malcolm J. Hollifield, a recent entrepreneurship graduate, the 2022 Most Outstanding Entrepreneurship Student.

During the event, the HIIE team also celebrated the first class inducted into the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), which was established just this year.

Inductees in the UAB chapter typically are named inventors on at least three U.S. Patents.

“You are a great representation of innovation across this campus and in Birmingham every single day,” Nugent told the inductees.

Those inducted into the UAB chapter of the NAI included:

  • Gattadahalli Anantharamaiah, Ph.D. – Professor Emeritus in Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care;
  • Venkatram Atigadda, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor in Dermatology;
  • David Briles, Ph.D. – Professor Emeritus in Microbiology;
  • Vladimir Fedorov, Ph.D. – Research Associate Professor in Physics;ResBiotic received the Start-Up of the Year Award during the 2022 Innovation Awards Oct. 21.ResBiotic received the Start-Up of the Year Award during the 2022 Innovation Awards on Oct. 21.
  • William Ferniany, Ph.D. – former CEO of the UAB Health System;
  • James Johnston, M.D. – Associate Professor in the Pediatric Division of the Department of Neurosurgery, Director of the Children’s of Alabama Global Surgery Program;
  • John Kappes, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology;
  • Richard Marchase, Ph.D. – former VP for Research and Economic Development at UAB;
  • Sergey Mirov, Ph.D. – University Professor of Physics;
  • Jan Novak, Ph.D. – Research Assistant Professor of Microbiology;
  • Haibin Ning, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor in Department of Materials Science and Engineering;
  • Moon Nahm, M.D. – Professor Emeritus in Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine;
  • Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D. – Nathan E. Miles Chair of Ophthalmology;
  • Selvin “Brian” Pillay, Ph.D. – Professor and Director of Materials Processing and Applications Development;
  • Dean Sicking, Ph.D. – Professor of Mechanical Engineering;
  • Gary Warner – Director of Research in Computer Forensics.

Anantharamaiah, Briles, Marchase, Mirov, and Sicking are all NAI Fellows with the national organization.

The NAI is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes, with more than 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide.