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NJIT physicist receives Innovators Award for tonometer and more

More than a half dozen licensed inventions that will someday enable people to lead healthier and more productive lives has brought a unique honor to NJIT Professor Gordon A. Thomas. Last week Thomas was among the more than a dozen scientists, technologists and engineers to be honored by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame. Thomas received the Innovators Award not only for his inventions, but also his years of research to create these devices.

"We are extremely proud of Gordon's recognition by the Hall," said NJIT Senior Vice President for Research and Development Donald H. Sebastian, PhD. "Gordon's inventiveness shows that scientific research can lead to breakthrough products and in particular, his work illustrates the powerful effect that cross-disciplinary teaming brings to problems in healthcare and the life sciences. This is a strategic focus for NJIT, and we are fortunate to have an accomplished researcher like Gordon on our faculty."

Thomas, a professor in NJIT's Department of Physics, is engaged in research in applied biophysics and biomedical engineering. While at NJIT, in collaboration with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Thomas invented a patent-pending device to detect and monitor people with glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness. The Incubation Factory, LLC, has licensed Thomas' tonometer for commercialization.

Thomas has also invented a patent-pending device for the non-invasive wireless monitoring and draining of cerebrospinal fluids that accumulate in individuals with brain injury or hydrocephalus. This "smart shunt" is now in development under a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in a partnership with the Harvard Medical School and the Infoscitex Corporation. Thomas is a project co-principal. Thomas and his collaborators also developed a new patent-pending ultra-sensitive device to measure and record vibrations which the military can use for situational awareness of perimeter security. The Army Research and Development Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, Dover, oversees this effort and provides support.

Thomas is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and was elected to chair the APS Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP), the organization's largest section, to chair the nominating committee of FIAP, and to serve on the Keithley Prize Committee of the APS. He has published more than 150 papers on basic physics, applied physics and biophysics and holds or has pending more than 15 patents. He received an Edison Award for a patent award for the flexible sensors.

He has served NJIT academically as a teacher and on committees to help students, guiding five doctoral candidates. He has trained high school students and undergraduates from New Jersey in his NJIT lab during the summer and academic year. He has worked to bring a biophysics degree program to NJIT and developed new biophysics courses. Thomas received his PhD in physics from the University of Rochester and has carried out research at Bell Labs, Harvard University, MIT and the University of Tokyo.

The New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame honors inventors, organizations, and others who have contributed to innovation in the Invention State. Now in its third decade, the organization has honored 276 men and women to date for inventive achievements which have had a significant positive impact on society.

Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
New Jersey Institute of Technology

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