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UTSA Innovation Awards celebrate faculty research excellence

UTSA Innovation Awards celebrate faculty research excellence

Chiung-Yu Hung, associate professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, was named Innovator of the Year at UTSA's 10th annual Innovation Awards.

NOVEMBER 16, 2022 — The UTSA Office of Commercialization and Innovation (OCI) held its 10th annual Innovation Awards, recognizing and celebrating success milestones in applied research innovations of the campus research community.

Presented in four categories this year, these annual awards are the lead indicators of UTSA's success in commercialization. This year’s event celebrated 22 researchers for their contributions, including Innovator of the Year.

“UTSA has focused on growing and diversifying our innovation ecosystem. With the recent NSF $15 million award for the Southwest I-Corps Hub, we are empowering our research community with additional resources and support systems to create new technologies and products,” said Rod McSherry, UTSA associate vice president for innovation and economic development.

Part of that growth is the membership expansion of UTSA faculty into the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

The keynote speaker for this year’s event was Robert Duncan, professor of physics at Texas Tech University and NAI fellow and board member, who emphasized the life changing impacts that faculty inventions have on the world, resulting in trillions of dollars in generated revenue and millions of jobs created.


The Innovator of the Year is Chiung-Yu Hung, associate professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. She is an expert in the field of Coccidioides, also known as San Joaquin Valley fever, an infectious fungal disease that affects the respiratory system. Focused on the development of therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines against these Coccidioides infections, she is currently developing a human vaccine with recombinant antigen and mRNA technologies with recent funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Using a five-year, $6.8 million grant from the NIH this past year, Hung established a research unit that develops therapeutics and vaccines against valley fever. She has filed six patents, all related to Coccidioides, including antigens, associated strains and copies for vaccine use (human and veterinary animals) against coccidioidomycosis.

Hung is co-director of the Vaccine Development Center at San Antonio and an executive

committee member of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. She is a member of the American Association of Immunologists, the American Society for Microbiology, the Medical Mycological Society of the Americas (MMSA), and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).

With nearly 70 peer-reviewed publications, Hung’s research has been featured in the Journal of Fungi, Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, International Journal of Nanomedicine and the Journal of Immunology.


Recipients of issued patents, trademarks and/or copyrights are presented with a plaque and certificate memorializing their award.

There were 11 patent recipients with 12 patents issued in 2022 including:

11,129,811 Methods and compositions to prevent or treat bacterial infections; M. Neal Guentzel
>> Compounds for the treatment of highly resistant pathogens

11,137,399 Tube-precipitin antigen of Coccidioides posadasii; Jieh-Juen Yu, Chiung-Yu Hung
>> Composition and methods for detection of Coccidioidomycosis

11,182,597 Systems and methods for evaluating individual, group, and crowd emotion engagement and attention; Paul Rad
>> Automatically evaluating the engagement and attentiveness of persons in a group

11,212,018 Systems, methods, and computer programs for wireless local area network localization; David Akopian and Nikolaos Gatsis
>> Method to determine location using wireless radios

11,214,591 Enzyme compositions, steroid derivatives, enzyme inhibitors, and methods of making same for pharmaceutical applications; Francis Yoshimoto
>> Enzyme inhibitors for the treatment of obesity and cardiovascular disease

11,260,162 Airway suction device; Yusheng Feng
>> A device that assists in the clearing of the airway of a patient

11,304,916 Methods and compositions for the treatment of Shiga Toxicosis; Stanton McHardy
>> Pharmaceutical compositions for the treatment of Shiga toxicosis

11,105,932 Lightweight distributed signature protocol for mobile computing and IoT devices; Raymond Kim-Kwang Choo
>> An efficient and secure two-party distributed cryptographic signing protocol

11,377,420 Compositions and methods for making donor-acceptor azetines; Michael Patrick Doyle
>> New methodology for the attachment of chiral peptide units to a variety of amines and alcohols

11,401,243 Quinoline derived small molecule inhibitors of nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT) and uses thereof; Stanton McHardy
>> NNMT inhibitors as therapeutics to treat various diseases/conditions.

11,413,336 Coccidioides antigens and methods of their use; Chiung-Yu Hung
>> Methods and compositions for treating or preventing a fungal infection, particularly infection by a Coccidioides species


There were two trademarks issued to nine recipients, all from the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS).

6,571,821 ISAO Standards Organization Gregory White, Larry Sjelin 

6,550,120 Cybear; Gregory White, Donovan Medina, Noah Bonaguidi, Larry Sjelin, Garett Fox, Josef Klein, Travis Sjelin, Angel Cruz, Julina Macy    


The second category is for innovators with optioned or licensed technology that has generated returns for the university. This year, there is one recipient.

Devices and methods for interactive augmented reality; John Quarles

>> Augmented Reality patient simulation


The third category highlights faculty, staff, students and team mentors who have participated in the National Science Foundation I-Corps™ program. This accelerator takes a mentored research team through the customer discovery process so they can better understand what is needed in the marketplace and what a business will need to do to be successful. To date, UTSA has sent 18 teams to the national I-Corps cohort including this year’s teams:

  • The first team was led by Dr. R. Lyle Hood along with Zach Fallon and Saketh Ram Peri, serving as co-entrepreneurial leads, and Robert Graham, serving as the industry mentor.

  • The second team was led by Gianluca Zanella along with Tony Treser and Emmanuel Oluga serving as co-entrepreneurial leads, and Thornton Bates, serving as the industry mentor.

Part of the UTSA Office for Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise, Innovation and Commercialization works with faculty to facilitate technology transfer and commercialization and to assist with university-industry partnerships. They manage a portfolio of over 300 technologies, mostly in cyber, biosciences (including medical devices) and advanced materials. In 2022, the team filed 37 patents and saw 15 patents issued. It completed 35 new invention disclosures and two licenses/options.

In 2022, UTSA contributed 21 patents to the UT System’s collective efforts, doubling its contributing percentage from the previous year. UT System has ranked in the Top 5 of 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents the past four years, taking the third spot in 2022.

“This 10th annual innovation awards event is a milestone celebration that lets us recognize how much our innovation community has grown,” added Christine Burke, director of UTSA Commercialization and Innovation. Programs supporting entrepreneurship and the success of innovations developed at the university include the team-based mentoring program, Venture Mentor Service-SA, the New Venture Incubator, a wet lab startup space for companies needing to secure their first location, and workshops for the I-Corps accelerator program.

UTSA is also a member of the NSF I-Corps Hub: Southwest region, part of the NSF-led National Innovation Network (NIN), accelerating the translation of discoveries into new solutions that benefit society in the region.

The campus has a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit for students as well, with entrepreneurship Bootcamps, an online Entrepreneurship Academy, multiple business plan competitions, and support from the Blackstone LaunchPad.

"This year’s awards truly recognize the ingenuity and agility of our research community to respond to the needs of our communities and have a research impact. Researchers continue to innovate and contribute to our national and international reputation as a R1 institution," said Jaclyn Shaw, interim vice president for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise.

UTSA is a Tier One research university and a Hispanic Serving Institution specializing in cyber, health, fundamental futures, and social-economic transformation. With an emphasis on transdisciplinary collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship, UTSA is leveraging its research and development capabilities to benefit the San Antonio community and the world beyond.

Sarah Hada

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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