NJIT Research Professor Reginald Farrow and NJIT Professor Gordon Thomas were the recipients last night of an Edison Patent Award from the Research & Development Council of New Jersey. The event kicked off the Council’s 50th Anniversary celebration and honored more than 30 inventors and 13 New Jersey companies and universities.Earlier in the day, the NJIT Board of Trustees commended Thomas and Farrow (shown proudly on the right holding their commendations) in a formal ceremony. The trustees noted that a “select committee of experts chose 13 patents from diverse fields of endeavor for the recognition.” The NJIT patent numbered among those honored. The Board’s formal resolution also noted its “appreciation” for these accomplishments and the manner in which this work “communicates NJIT’s unique strengths and attributes.” Shown with the pair is NJIT Professor Nirwan Ansari whom the board also commended.
The R&D Council award honored a medical device invented by both professors and graduate student Sheng Liu: “No Clog Shunt Using a Compact Fluid Drag Path” (U.S. Patent 8,088,091). The device enables the implantable, wireless monitoring of both the extremely slow flow of the cerebrospinal fluid as well as tiny changes in the pressure in a ventriculo-pertoneal (VP) shunt that drains fluid out of the brain.
VP shunts are commonly used by patients suffering from severe excess pressure in the brain due to hydrocephalus or brain injury.
Farrow’s research explores the interface between nanotechnology and biophysics and biomedical engineering.His focus is to develop a method to investigate the fundamental properties of biological cells at the nanoscale using an array of carbon nanotube probes. His goal has been to understand how cells communicate both internally and with other cells. This communication drives the individual and collective cell functions at the most basic level.
Farrow and his team have used the same carbon nanotube array platform to fabricate the world’s smallest biofuel cell which may be used in the future to power in vivo versions of the nanoprobe array and other biomedical devices. Three patents have been awarded based on Farrow’s research at NJIT and others are pending. Farrow was the recent recipient of NJIT’s highest research award: the NJIT Overseers Research Medal and Award.
Thomas is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and was elected to chair the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP), the largest section of the APS, to chair the Nominating Committee of FIAP, and to serve on the Keithley Prize Committee of the APS. He has published over 150 papers on basic physics, applied physics and biophysics and holds or has pending over 15 patents. He has received an Edison Award for a patent on flexible sensors and the 2011 Innovator Award from the NJ Inventors’ Hall of Fame for the body of his inventions and research.
Thomas has served NJIT academically as a teacher and in various committees that work to help students, and has guided five students through their doctoral work. In addition, he has trained high school students and undergraduates from New Jersey in his lab at NJIT both during the summer and the academic year. He has worked to bring a biophysics degree program to NJIT and has developed new courses in biophysics.
Thomas received his PhD in physics from the University of Rochester and has carried out research at Bell Labs, Harvard, MIT and the University of Tokyo.