Medical Patents - Windfall Opportunities and Innovation from Wisconsin


    Think medical patents couldn't derive from a state known largely for its cheese? The University of Wisconsin-Madison begs to differ, and the students who flock to their biomedical engineering program from all over the country agree. Taking an unusual experiential approach, UW-Madison sets itself apart by offering students the opportunity to solve real-life clinical issues through research and design.


    This leads to ongoing medical patent opportunities for its students, who can watch their accomplishments from conception to completion--and in the field resolving medical needs. In the full article at Newswise, biomedical engineering chair and department head Robert Radwin says their program is unparalleled. "Almost every engineering program has a senior design experience, but all our BME students work on projects throughout their curriculum. You can only do this in Wisconsin, and students come here because of this curriculum."


    Among recent students who have sought or received medical patents for their innovative medical designs are undergraduates Claire Flanagan and Ashley Huth and alumni Chris Westphal. Flanagan and Huth filed a provisional medical patent application for a syringe that can separately "store liquid and solid components, and mix and administer a solution." This is to solve a contemporary challenge in delivering "complex and multi-component therapeutics" according to UW-Madison professor W. John Kao. Westphal was part of a team that developed and manufactured a device to help researchers study hamstring injuries using MRIs.


    The list of collaborative and independent innovation is long and ongoing, as are the opportunities for students to commemorate their efforts with medical patents (and ensuing profits). "I think the opportunity of being able to get a [medical] patent before you get your undergraduate degree lingers in the minds of many students while they are designing and building their devices," says Westphal. Imagining crossing leaving the stage with a diploma and a medical patent in hand, and I believe Mr. Westphal is right on the money.