The University of Utah’s most prolific inventors were honored at a private ceremony in January following the recent recording of the university’s 5,000th invention disclosure, which was filed by Professor Richard Brown, dean of the College of Engineering. Brown collaborated on the device with Intermountain Healthcare endocrinologist Joel Ehrenkranz.

Brown and Ehrenkranz invented a programmable “smart food tray” that automatically measures a food’s carbohydrates, fat and protein in real-time for diabetics and others on specific diets. It relays the information to an insulin pump to give patients precisely the amount of insulin necessary to ensure healthy glucose levels. 

President Michael Young also presented awards to engineers Joseph Andrade, distinguished professor of bioengineering, and Stephen Jacobsen, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering. Other prolific inventors at the U who were honored include chemist Glenn Prestwich, metallurgical engineer Jan Miller, and biologist Baldomero Olivera.

The U has earned a top-notch reputation for inventing since it began keeping records in 1965. At that time, the first invention disclosure was filed by Wayne Brown, who later served as dean of the College of Engineering, for a “continuous electroplating process and apparatus” used to purify metals.

In addition to the 5,000th invention disclosure, the university has filed 4,344 patent applications to date. Of those, it has secured 1,661 patents and completed 608 technology licenses with companies or individuals.

During the ceremony, President Young noted that engineering faculty have filed the most disclosures in the past 18 months of any college at the U (just slightly ahead of medicine).

The 5,000th invention disclosure honor follows on the heels of recent news that the University of Utah overtook MIT in 2009 to become America’s No. 1 research institution for creating startup companies based on university technology – with just a fraction of the research budget of other major universities. According to the Association of University Technology Managers, the U of U created 19 companies in 2009, while MIT and the California Institute of Technology tied for second with 18 companies each. A year earlier, the U tied for first place with the MIT, and was second to MIT for the prior two years.

The College of Engineering is contributing significantly to the U’s reputation for spinning out companies. Seven of the 19 startup companies in 2009 originated in the College. 

Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune and on KSL.