2021 Innovator of the Year Finalists

mkubacki General Information

The Innovator of the Year award recognizes established Ohio State researchers who are actively working to promote commercialization of university intellectual property, through invention disclosures filed, patents applied for and/or received, technologies licensed or spin-off companies formed. The award cultivates an entrepreneurial spirit among all of our investigators. Join us in congratulating the 2021 Innovator of the Year finalists.

image of Renukaradhya GourapuraRenukaradhya J. Gourapura, DVM, MS, PhD

Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine
Center for Food Animal Health

Renukaradhya Gourapura is a professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and the Center for Food Animal Health. His primary research focus is mucosal immunology, with a goal to develop innovative solutions to mitigate infectious and zoonotic diseases and their transmission in food animals. Gourapura’s research has led to development of US patented and licensed intranasal vaccine delivery platforms to mitigate both and influenza and PRRS, an immune suppressive respiratory disease, in pigs, and the development of an oral deliverable Salmonella species vaccine candidate shown to reduce the colonization of salmonella in both layer and broiler birds. His research expertise has resulted in three grant awards for conducting pilot research on COVID-19 vaccine design and testing. He has been awarded 40 research grants totaling nearly $8 million from highly competitive organizations and his work has resulted in 85 peer-reviewed research articles, 12 invited review articles, three USA approved patents, and three US patents currently under review. Gourapura was selected as a 2019 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He is the recipient of the 2021 Innovator of the Year Award from the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Gourapura received his PhD in Viral Immunology from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India and his DVM in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India.


image of Peixuan GuoPeixuan Guo, PhD

Sylvan G. Frank Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery Systems
College of Pharmacy

Peixuan Guo is the Sylvan G. Frank Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery Systems in the College of Pharmacy and the director for the Center for RNA Nanobiotechnology and Nanomedicine. His research focuses on the application of RNA nanotechnology for cancer therapy. Gou’s research led to several discoveries, including the RNA rubbery property that leads to efficient cancer targeting and fast renal clearance, leading to therapeutics without toxicity; the method for the therapy of lung cancer; invention of novel methods for liver Cancer Therapy and invention of a simple and fast in-home method for earlier diagnosing of COVID-19 infection. He has received awards including the Pfizer Distinguished Faculty Award, Purdue Faculty Scholar Award, Lions Club Cancer Research Award, Distinguished Alumni of the University of Minnesota, and 100 Years Distinguished Chinese Alumni of the University of Minnesota. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of ExonanoRNA LLC and has raised more than $4 million of funding for the company to develop RNA nanoparticles for cancer therapy.  Guo has 230 publications in high impact journals, including 71 since joining Ohio State in 2016, and has been awarded a total of ten grants since starting at Ohio State. He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota.


image of Jianrong LiJianrong Li, DVM, PhD

Department of Veterinary Biosciences

Jianrong Li is a professor in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences. His research focus is on developing safe and efficacious vaccines against respiratory viruses including human metapneumovirus (hMPV), human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and recently emerged SARS-CoV-2. His research has received over $15.0 million as a principal investigator and over $50.0 million as a co-PI/co-I and has led to 10 issued patents, 12 patent applications/invention disclosures, and seven license agreements. In the past 15 years, he has invented several vaccine candidates against major human and animal pathogens including human norovirus, hMPV, RSV, Zika virus, porcine coronaviruses, and SARS-CoV-2. The two most recently developed vaccine candidates, the measles virus-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and the vesicular stomatitis virus-based RSV vaccine, are licensed to Biological E. Limited (BE), a Hyderabad, India-based vaccine and pharmaceutical company. He has received the Zoetis Award for Research Excellence, Charles C. Capen Teaching Excellence Award, and University Distinguished Mentor for Undergraduate Students from the Ohio State. Li received his DVM and PhD in Virology and Immunology from Zhejiang University, China.


image of Stefan NiewieskStefan Niewiesk, DVM, PhD, DECLAM

Department of Veterinary Biosciences

Stefan Niewiesk is a professor in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences. His research interests are the pathogenesis of human respiratory virus infections, vaccine research and testing of antivirals. His research in the cotton rat model aims to define the immune response against respiratory syncytial virus (and other respiratory viruses like adenovirus, measles virus, influenza virus and parainfluenza virus). His group has developed and tested vaccine platforms and investigated vaccine related questions such as the inhibition of vaccines by maternal antibody, their efficacy in neonatal and old animals, and duration of vaccine responses. In addition, his research group has developed new techniques and methods for analysis of lung infection in the cotton rat model. His laboratory also uses humanized mice to investigate leukemia induction and prevention by human T cell leukemia virus type 1. Niewiesk received his DVM and PhD from the Hannover Veterinary College, Hannover, Germany.


image of Judit PuskasJudit E. Puskas, PhD

Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Judit Puskas is a professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.  Her research focus is on “Green polymer chemistry,” which aims to make rubbers, plastics, and similar materials using environmentally friendly, or “green,” practices, and also in rubbery biomaterials, used in medical devices implanted in the body, such as as heart stents and silicone breast implants. She is the coinventor on the material used on a drug eluting stent, implanted in over six million people and is currently developing an innovative way to improve breast reconstruction after cancer surgery. Puskas is an inventor or co-inventor of 33 U.S. patents and applications. She is the recipient of several awards including the 2012 GE Healthymagination Breast Cancer Challenge Award, and the 2017 Charles Goodyear Medal, the most prestigious award given by the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society. She was elected as a Fellow to the National Academy of Inventors in 2020. She was named a university Distinguished Professor in 2020. Puskas received a PhD in plastics and rubber technology and an M. E. Sc in organic and biochemical engineering in from the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary.