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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr November 02, 2020

Original story by Briana Bryant for UAB News

Feldman ClassroomSue Feldman, Ph.D.UAB School of Health Professions’ Professor Sue Feldman, Ph.D. and Assistant Professor Mohanoj Thirumalai, Ph.D., along with the Department of Pathology’s Sixto M. Leal Jr., M.D., Ph.D., were awarded the Faculty Innovator of the Year honor during the fifth-annual UAB Innovation Awards. The event, presented by the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, recognized faculty, staff, student and community innovators who are working to defeat COVID-19 and who exemplify innovation amid the global pandemic.

“We received an outpouring of nominations from across campus and within the community,” said Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., executive director of the Harbert Institute and chair of the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences. “The many stories of cutting-edge research and cross-disciplinary collaboration underscore our resilience and the university’s commitment to keeping our community safe.”

Faculty Innovator of the Year

Mohan 2Mohanraj Thirumalai, Ph.D.Mohanraj Thirumalai, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Feldman, director of Graduate Programs in Health Informatics, and Thirumalai, are members of the Department of Health Services Administration. Their teams worked tirelessly to build and scale the Healpbeatcovid19.org, GuideSafe and UAB Healthcheck web applications. 

They have ensured that UAB played a leadership role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, not just locally, but statewide and beyond. The impact of their work in helping keep our community healthy cannot be overstated. 

In addition, Feldman is a senior scientist in the UAB Informatics Institute and Thirumalai is director of Information and Communication Technologies for the UAB/Lakeshore Research Collaborative. 

Other categories and winners include:

Startup of the Year

Solution Studios, led by Joel Berry, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, officially launched the platform as a startup company this year, and quickly pivoted to create a pandemic-specific interface where clinicians could pose COVID-19 challenges, including addressing social needs amid the pandemic, tackling at-home care for discharged COVID-19 patients, and keeping patients safe during routine treatments like dialysis.

Staff Innovator of the Year

Brian Rivers, associate vice president and chief technology officer, was the UAB lead in developing the exposure notification app in partnership with Google, Apple, MotionMobs and the ADPH. Rivers developed a novel method to verify positive tests, allowing automation of verification to reduce false positives. Alabama was the first state to introduce the method, which is currently in the patent process.

Community Innovator of the Year

UAB alumna Taylor Peake is president of Birmingham-based software consulting and development firm, MotionMobs. Together with UAB and the Alabama Department of Public Health, MotionMobs developed a secure, anonymous contact tracing app. GuideSafe™ is a multi-tool platform comprised of the GuideSafe™ HealthCheck, Exposure Notification Application, and Event Passport. The app has been downloaded by more than 70,000 residents across the state of Alabama. Alabama was the 4th state to launch such an app in the United States.

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