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Faculty Win “Innovator of the Year” Awards

April 12, 2018

Several Southern Illinois University Medicine faculty were among those honored as "Innovators of the Year" during the inaugural Illinois Capital Innovation Competition. The event, a partnership of the University of Illinois Springfield, Innovate Springfield and the School of Medicine was held April 6, 2018, at the UIS Student Union.

More than 100 individual applicants applied for award consideration. The goals of the awards were to identify, celebrate and engage area innovators in the Sangamon County area and bring them together to collaborate with leaders from industry, social impact organizations and government.

The award in the community solutions category was given to the Community Health and Support Team at the SIU Center for Family Medicine for the CHIS intensive care coordination outreach model. Award-winners include Tracey Smith, DNP, Nichole Mirocha, MD, Janice Frueh, MD, and Meghan Golden. CHIS programs provide crisis intervention, brief treatment and connection to longer term community and primary health care. The CHIS multi-pronged approach is a proactive and comprehensive program currently providing immediate healthcare linkage to stabilize participants through a variety of evidence-based programs. 

Ashim Gupta, PhD, and Michael Neumeister, MD with the SIU School of Medicine and Sohyung Cho with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville were honored with the “Innovator of the Year” award for medical device. They invented a syringe system for fluid separation during surgery that helps reduce the time a patient is under anesthesia, as well as the time the surgeons and anesthesiologist are in the operating room.  

SIU School of Medicine physicians were also honored with the “Innovator of the Year” award in the medical research category. Andrew Wilber, PhD, and Christopher Chambers, PhD, along with Jeffrey Miller, MD, of National Institutes of Health, developed a hemoglobin gene therapy to treat Sickle Cell Anemia and Beta-thalassemia. Each year, 300,000 – 500,000 babies are born with one of these disorders. 

Several other area organizations were honored at the event. 

The awards competition was open to researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, startups, existing businesses, institutions, social entrepreneurs, non-profits and other individuals who currently live in and around Sangamon County, who have lived here at some point in their lives, or are willing to relocate here.

Photos: Ashim Gupta, PhD and UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch, EdD, Dr. Tracy Smith and UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch, EdD and Andrew Wilber, PhD