Harbert Institute honors Innovation Award winners, inducts first UAB class of National Academy of Inventors members

At their annual Innovation Awards, UAB’s Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship celebrated innovators from all corners of campus for their accomplishments, inventions and ingenuity.
Written by: Amy Jones
Media contact: Savannah Koplon

Anath Shalev MD and Kathy Nugent Ph.D. Photo credit Amy Jones Anath Shalev, M.D., Kathy Nugent, Ph.D.
Photography: Amy Jones
With top Birmingham business leaders and community luminaries looking on, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship reinstated its yearly Innovation Awards after a two-year hiatus. It is an event that honors campus inventors who are 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 are here at UAB. Your success is our success.”

Award categories and winners included:

  • Startup of the YearResBiotic. 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 Department of Pediatrics Assistant Professor Vivek Lal, M.D., and UAB Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine Professor Amit Gaggar, M.D. ResBiotic’s success has led to another spinout company, Alveolus Bio, which focuses on drug development.
  • Community Partnership of the YearFirst 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 startup 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 startup 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 in the Collat School of Business, 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 UAB chapter of the National Academy of Inventors; UAB’s NAI chapter was established in 2021.

Amit Gaggar M.D. Maggie Belshe Kathy Nugent C. Vivek LalAmit Gaggar M.D., Maggie Belshe, Kathy Nugent, C. Vivek Lal M.D.
Photography: Amy Jones
Inductees in the UAB chapter are named inventors on at least three United States patents. Those inducted into the UAB chapter of the NAI included: