Faculty Innovation Honored at University-wide Event


Dr. Henry Daniell, Professor and Interim Chair of Biochemistry, and Dr. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, Professor and Chair of Pathology.

Philadelphia — Penn Dental Medicine faculty members Dr. Henry Daniell and Dr. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto were recognized for their research innovations as part of Penn’s Celebration of Innovation, held November 28 at Houston Hall on Penn’s campus. The Penn Center for Innovation – Penn’s hub for innovation, venture creation, and commercialization – hosts this University-wide, annual event to honor trailblazing faculty who obtained patents for their inventions in the previous fiscal year. The patents of Drs. Daniell and Jordan-Sciutto were among the 107 patents issued to Penn faculty in fiscal year 2018 and celebrated at the event.

“The innovative research of our faculty is truly inspiring,” says Dr. Mark Wolff, Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine. “We are so proud of Henry and Kelly and the unique work these recent patents represent.”

Dr. Daniell, Professor and Interim Chair of Biochemistry at Penn Dental Medicine, was awarded two patents related to his research – a national phase patent titled “Administration of Plant Expressed Oral Tolerance Agents” and a continuation patent titled “Chloroplasts Engineered to Express Pharmaceutical Proteins.” With the aim of tackling the oppressively high cost of medications, Dr. Daniell’s work uses a novel, plant-based platform for the production and oral delivery of biopharmaceuticals. Dr. Daniell develops biopharmaceuticals by introducing therapeutic proteins into lettuce cells, then growing, harvesting, freeze-drying, and encapsulating these specially engineered plants. These shelf-stable capsules could then be taken orally, eliminating both the expense of injections and the refrigeration required to transport and store the drugs, as well as the costly fermentation process involved in traditional biopharmaceutical production. Throughout his career, his work has generated more than 100 published and awarded patents in the U.S. and around the globe .

Dr. Jordan-Sciutto, Professor and Chair of Pathology at Penn Dental Medicine, in collaboration with Dr. Melpo Christofidou-Solomidou, Research Professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, received a utility patent this past year titled “Use of Flaxseed and Flaxseed Derivatives for Treatment of Neurological Disorders and Viral Diseases.” The focus of Dr. Jordan-Sciutto’s research has been on the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration associated with neuroinflammation during HIV infection. As inflammation and oxidative stress play prominent roles in progression of non-infectious neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease, her lab has also extended its findings in HIV associated neurocognitive dysfunction (HAND) to these diseases in the hopes of uncovering common mechanism, and thereby, common therapeutic targets. In the work related to the patent, they have found that the flaxseed lignan secoisolariciresonal diglucoside, reduces infiltration of inflammatory cells into the brain in addition to its antioxidant effects.

Patent awardees received personalized “patent cubes” to mark their achievements.
Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett, a steering committee member of PCI, presented the keynote address at the event, which also included a networking reception and special awards to various Penn spinout companies and innovators recognizing their commercialization activities during fiscal year 2018.