Inventor of the year

The 2018 Billy R.Martin Innovation Award 

“Our motto over the years has been simple solutions to complex problems, and that’s what this is ”

Robert F. Diegelmann, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry &Molecular Biology
Director, Laboratory of Tissue Repair
VCU School of Medicine

Sometimes inspiration comes in waves, flashes or spurts. For Inventor of the Year, Robert F. Diegelmann, Ph.D., it happens in clumps.

Years ago, while cleaning up after the family cat, Diegelmann couldn’t help but notice the litter’s clumping properties—specifically the active ingredient that causes it, sodium bentonite. Chasing his curiosity led to an idea for a lightweight dressing packed into major wounds to stop severe bleeding in combat or mass casualty situations. This discovery is credited with saving thousands of lives.

Diegelmann, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the School of Medicine, recently received the university’s 2018 Billy R. Martin Innovation Award or his work on this technology and other innovations in wound healing and tissue repair.

At this year VCU Innovates reception, VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. praised Diegelmann’s distinguished career. “He has made incredible contributions to wound healing and trauma for nearly 50 years, not just the years he has been here at VCU,” Rao said.

Out-of-the-box thinking is Diegelmann’s specialty. He’s listed on nine patent applications and holds four U.S. and three foreign patents. He has also published more than 200 scientific articles, and book chapters, two books and serves on the editorial board of the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration.