Dr. Vikki Hazelwood Nurtures Inventors at Stevens




   Story by Schaefer School of Engineering & Science

October 15, 2010

Dr. Vikki HazelwoodFor Dr. Vikki Hazelwood at Stevens Institute of Technology, science is not always about lab coats and microscopes. Her students also learn the ins and outs of handshakes and business cards.

As an Industry Professor in Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Hazelwood capitalizes on her experience to mentor students through hands-on projects that bring to market effective solutions to real medical problems.

On October 14, 2010, her contributions to inventions and inventing were recognized by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame. At their annual awards banquet, the organization presented Dr. Hazelwood with the Advancement of Invention Award, given to an individual or entity with a "sterling record of sustained encouragement of innovation in New Jersey" serving as a "model to encourage careers linked with or dependent upon invention and innovation." The accolade was the result of her award-winning teaching and the prolific production of her students and alumni, all of which improve both science and society in New Jersey and beyond.

Dr. Hazelwood first embarked on a career as an executive in medical device companies, forging relationships with the clinicians, hospitals, and institutions on the front lines. Constant interaction with these communities revealed that the end users of her companies' products were not just consumers, but also rich resources for idea mining. Today, she continues to engage with doctors, surgeons, and other clinicians to brainstorm their patients' nagging problems, which are then converted into laboratory experiments and patented solutions at Stevens.

This tactic of addressing real problems within the theoretical space of academia is part of a trending field known as translational research. Dr. Hazelwood's Lab for Translational Research in Medicine (TRM) supports a revolutionary process that "translates" clinical needs into laboratory bench work with real world applications. Such efforts are breaking long-standing barriers between the clinic and the lab that have in the past hindered doctors, scientists, and patients. Through discovery of the needs of actual patients, biomedical engineers at Stevens are more likely to make their own research discoveries more viable in clinical practice.

Dr. Hazelwood also trains her science-centric students to get out of the clean room and become engaging entrepreneurs capable of pitching venture capitalists or running businesses spawned by their innovative devices. To convey these diverse skills and the technology transfer process to her students, Dr. Hazelwood guides them through projects in search of genuine solutions to unmet medical needs. In particular, her students at Stevens collaborate with medical institutions to develop technologies that better recognize and interpret physiologic function, leading to more accurate diagnoses or treatment for patients.

TRM has already generated one spin off company, SPOC, Inc., for which Dr. Hazelwood has been President and CEO. Stevens students are co-inventors and full-time employees at the medical device company, which has to date received 510K clearance from the FDA and $1 million in venture funding. Since arriving at Stevens in 2004, Dr. Hazelwood has also overseen 7 patent applications that include as authors undergraduate students cooperating with partners in the region's busy medical community. Her students have gone on to win or place in many school, statewide, and national prizes for pharmaceutical engineering, medical products, and business pitch competitions.

Dr. Hazelwood earned a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering from Rutgers University, Master's in Biomedical Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. She spent 25 years in the medical/pharmaceutical industry before coming to Stevens in 2004. Her grassroots efforts establishing an environment of entrepreneurship at the university complements the institution-wide strategy supporting innovative research with marketable results.

Although Dr. Hazelwood maintains a heavy workload at Stevens, she continues to co-author journal papers on novel research and has published articles and a book on student outcomes in higher education. Her effect on students at Stevens has been recognized with teaching awards for the academic years 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. Earlier this year, she also secured a grant-funded position at Hackensack University Medical Center as a Clinical Researcher.

At Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation UniversityTM, Dr. Hazelwood is doing more than just advancing invention. She is contributing to the strategic development of entrepreneurial consciousness fundamental to the progress of academic science and engineering programs. As her students today become the industrial scientists and research scholars of tomorrow, we can all expect to see great things come to fruition that enhance our health, well-being, and society.

To learn more about Stevens role in promoting entrepreneurship at universities, please visit the Office of Academic Entrepreneurship or the TRM website.


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