From Left: Carrie Roth, president/CEO of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park; VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.; Peter Pidcoe, D.P.T., Ph.D; Ivelina Metcheva, Ph.D., executive director of VCU Innovation Gateway; and Francis Macrina, Ph.D., vice president of research and innovation, celebrate Pidcoe’s award at Innovation Gateway’s 10th annual reception.

Invented at VCU: Pidcoe lauded for creation of innovative technologies

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Peter Pidcoe, D.P.T., Ph.D., has been honored with the 2015 Billy R. Martin Innovation Award for developing a number of novel technologies that improve people’s quality of life.

Pidcoe is an associate professor and assistant chair in the Department of Physical Therapy in the School of Allied Health. He holds joint appointments in the School of Engineering’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and the School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 

Several years ago, Pidcoe led an interdisciplinary team of students from the Departments of Physical Therapy and Biomedical Engineering to create a bike that could be used by a 7-year-old with severe physical limitations.

Pidcoe also developed an automated patient-centered data capture system that wirelessly transmits patient rehab performance data to a central database, allowing therapists to have a comprehensive electronic assessment of a patient’s progress.

In addition, he created a Robotic Gait trainer that reproduces lower limb joint angles to replicate surface walking motions, a device designed to help in the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered from stroke, TBI or spinal cord injury.

And, just last month, Pidcoe participated in the Smithsonian and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 2015 Innovation Festival, where he demonstrated his latest invention, a skateboard-like device that helps at-risk infants learn to crawl. The Self-Initiated Prone Progressive Crawler holds great promise in helping children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or other neurologic disorders that would inhibit their ability to learn to crawl. 

Pidcoe was presented with the Billy R. Martin Innovation Award during the 10th annual Invented at VCU reception on Oct. 21. Billy Martin, Ph.D., who died in 2008, was the former chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and was internationally renowned for his research in understanding addiction and drug abuse and how it affected the brain. Martin held more than 30 U.S. and foreign patents; peak revenues from his inventions exceeded $500,000 a year.

This type of work is not done in a vacuum. I am fortunate to have the support of my department and school in this endeavor.

“This type of work is not done in a vacuum. I am fortunate to have the support of my department and school in this endeavor. The Innovation Gateway has also been instrumental in navigating the patent process and promoting the work,” Pidcoe said. “When I look at the history of previous recipients, I am honored to become a member of this group.”

VCU Innovation Gateway, which co-hosted the reception along with the Virginia Biotech Research Park, supports entrepreneurship and promotes innovation at the university by helping inventors protect and commercialize their inventions. This year, 17 patents were issued – an increase of about 50 percent over last year and a new record. Licensing revenues were also up by 50 percent from a year ago to more than $2.5 million. In addition, seven new startup companies were formed based on inventions by VCU faculty – also a new record. The office also supported the creation of eight student companies, six of which already are producing revenue.

“These statistics reflect the work that you and your colleagues are doing at VCU — from physical therapy and engineering to genetics, chemistry and the arts,” said Ivelina Metcheva, Ph.D., executive director of VCU Innovation Gateway. “Part of our collective success stems from the partnerships we have formed with the entrepreneurial community locally, throughout the commonwealth and the country.”

Commercialization and licensing of inventions is a major goal of the university, as demonstrated by its inclusion in the strategic plan, Quest for Distinction.

“Pete’s research celebrates the legacy established by Billy Martin and others who create new knowledge and constantly challenge themselves in terms of how that knowledge can be used to benefit society and the world,” said Francis Macrina, Ph.D., vice president for research and innovation at VCU. “He embodies the pursuit of world-class research and its translation to society to improve the quality of life.”

It’s not just research, but innovation that solves problems and helps people.

With its primary focus to help VCU inventions move into the marketplace, Innovation Gateway has also expanded its role in building and strengthening partnerships with business and funding communities.

“What’s happening here supports our goals as a premier research university,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “It’s not just research, but innovation that solves problems and helps people. As a premier research university, we have faculty and students who are dedicated to discovery and to writing the future of humanity.”


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