BioFlorida recognized individuals and organizations throughout six unique categories for their incredible achievements. This year’s award recipients include:
Researcher of the Year Award
The Researcher of the Year award recognizes distinguished researchers whose achievements have significantly advanced scientific knowledge with a proven impact on innovation and public health.
This years' award was presented to Dr. James J. Hickman, Chief Scientist and Chairman of the Board at Hesperos, Inc., a global contract research organization he co-founded that is providing safety and efficacy testing services for novel therapeutics using its Human-on-a-Chip® platform – the most advanced, multi-organ microphysiological system available today. By developing human-based, clinically relevant disease models, Hesperos is accelerating drug discovery for a range of indications by providing unprecedented visibility into how those diseases and potential therapeutics impact the body over time, especially for rare diseases. This includes neurodegenerative and rare diseases such as Alzheimer’s and ALS, as well as investigating the effects of opioid overdose and recovery, among others. The exciting new technology continues gaining industry adoption from commercial partners and regulators alike. This was most recently evidenced by the FDA authorizing a Phase II clinical trial (#NCT04658472) for a repurposed drug for a rare neurodegenerative disease using safety data from another indication but using efficacy data only from the Hesperos platform. This was a first-of-its-kind achievement and a significant milestone in the evolution of drug discovery for human-on-a-chip systems.
In addition to his role at Hesperos, Dr. Hickman is the Founding Director of the NanoScience Technology Center, and Professor of NanoScience Technology and Electrical Engineering at the University of Central Florida. Hesperos was initiated in the UCF incubator before moving to its current facility. Previously, he was the Hunter Endowed Chair in the Bioengineering Department at Clemson University where he and Tom Boland invented the bioprinting of cells.
Dr. Hickman earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from MIT and has spent the past 30 years studying the interaction of biological species with modified surfaces in both industry and academia, including stints at NSF and DARPA in the area of biological computation.
He has more than 31 issued patents, 164 publications, and 20 book chapters. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biomedical Engineers, the American Vacuum Society, International Academy of Nanobiotechnology, and most recently, the National Academy of Inventors.
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