Clemson researcher named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

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As a member organization with over 4,000 members worldwide, The National Academy of Inventors is dedicated to supporting inventors in academia.  The NAI Fellows program was established to highlight academic inventors who have created novel innovations. The program currently has over 1,060 fellows from 250 universities and governmental and non-profit institutions. Every year, the NAI inducts a robust class of inventors into the Fellows program. In 2018, Clemson University’s very own Dr. Apparao Rao, was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Joining the ranks of over 1,000 NAI Fellows, Dr. Rao is the third Clemson faculty member to receive this honor.

A long-time inventor and innovator, Dr. Rao received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Kentucky in 1989 prior to serving as a post-doctoral research associate at MIT. During his time at Clemson, he founded (and still directs) the Clemson Nanomaterials Institute. Currently, Dr. Rao serves as the R. A. Bowen Professor of Physics and the associate dean for discovery of the College of Science. In addition to the NAI fellowship, he is also a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.

While at Clemson, Dr. Rao has made a significant impact on the University research enterprise with his work in nanomaterials. His research has explored many different aspects of nanomaterials with functions ranging from ultra-simple triboelectric nanogenerators (U-TENG) to electrochemical energy storage. These technologies can lead to a greener, more sustainable future. True to the goals of the NAI, Dr. Rao’s technologies have contributed to quality of life and welfare of society.

With the induction of esteemed faculty like Dr. Apparao Rao, the NAI continues to highlight academic inventors whose technologies have bettered the world.  The NAI Fellows together hold over 36,000 issued U.S. patents, which have produced over 9,000 licensed technologies and companies.  Their efforts, technologies, and discoveries have made a positive impact on research and will continue to change the world.

John DesJardins: Inventor Spotlight

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Dr. John DesJardins, the Hambright Leadership Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Clemson University, has worked to change the scientific community with his knowledge and innovative research in orthopedic biomechanics and biomaterials. Since being at Clemson, DesJardins has been awarded and recognized for his work in orthopedics, rehabilitation, implant design, and sports medicine.

DesJardins first became a part of the Clemson family as a research technician, and received his Ph.D. in bioengineering in December 2006. Having served as an employee, student, and faculty member at Clemson for over 20 years, DesJardins has made a substantial impact on the University research enterprise. While at Clemson, DesJardins has co-authored over 300 peer-reviewed conference or journal publications based in biomechanics, biomaterials, tribology, engineering education, and mechanical testing. He is the director of the Laboratory of Orthopaedic Design and Engineering at Clemson University and the Frank H. Stelling and C. Dayton Riddle Orthopaedic Education and Research Laboratory at CUBEInC. He currently serves as the lead on several multidisciplinary research projects. In addition to his many accomplishments as an inventor, DesJardins works to encourage and empower the next generation of inventors through his work with the University Innovation Fellows and the Design and Entrepeneurship Network (The DEN). He is the director of the Clemson senior capstone design courses where he helps several students develop innovative biomedical devices, and he leads an undergraduate bioengineering study abroad program in Spain that focuses on international bioethics.

As an inventor and resource for student inventors, DesJardins has been able to significantly impact the research landscape at Clemson University. From inventing to teaching, DesJardins will continue to be a force in research for years to come.

Learn more about Dr. John DesJardins here.

Virtual reality system used to help stroke victims regain upper extremity coordination

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An estimated seven million Americans live with long-term disability from a stroke and about 800,000 strokes occur each year in the U.S. alone. Stroke damage leaves the majority of survivors with long-term arm impairment that interferes with daily life. Therapy options for post-stroke arm impairment are very limited, especially for those who suffer with more-severe impairment, and insurance only covers a fraction of the amount of therapy needed. Most of the therapy that is available is frustrating and tedious for stroke survivors, often to the point where stroke survivors stop therapy altogether.

In 2011, an interdisciplinary research team of Clemson University Computer Scientists, led by Dr. Larry Hodges, and Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) stroke researchers, led by Dr. Michelle Woodbury, began work on a novel virtual reality game technology to address these problems.  In 2013, Recovr, Inc. was founded by the Clemson researchers who licensed their initial work done at Clemson and MUSC through the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF), with Austen Hayes, a member of the original development team, as the CEO. Their current product, the Recovr Rehabilitation System (RRS) has now expanded to support therapy of a wide range of physical and neurological conditions while also capturing and automatically documenting a patient’s progress and compliance with their rehabilitation program.

Since its inception in November 2013, Recovr has received a number of notable awards and successes. In 2014 Recovr was chosen to participate in the IronYard Digital Health Accelerator and was awarded a SC Launch Academic Startup Assistant Program (ASAP) grant.  Later that year the company received the InnoVision Small Enterprise Award. Their rehabilitation system received FDA 510(K) Clearance and the company raised their initial seed round of investment in 2015. In 2016 Recovr, in collaboration with MUSC, was awarded a large NIH Direct to Phase II SBIR grant—the first to be received by any organization in the state of South Carolina. This award is funding research in the effectiveness of the Recovr Rehabilitation System for home use.

Currently, Recovr is in the due diligence phase with a South Carolina organization for further investment funding. This investment will allow them to expand their sales and development personnel operating out of their home office in downtown Clemson, SC.

For more information on Recovr, visit