Newswise — Dr. Joachim Kohn, Director of New Jersey Center for Biomaterials and Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, received the Innovation Hero award for his pioneering research achievements at this year’s Healthcare Heroes event which took place at The Palace at Somerset Park on Tuesday, June 19. The annual event, hosted by NJBIZ, recognizes individuals and organizations that are making a significant impact on the quality of healthcare in New Jersey.

For the last 20 years, Dr. Kohn’s life as a Rutgers faculty member has been dedicated to alleviating human suffering. With his work broadly focused on the development of new medical implants and devices, Dr. Kohn has more than 70 issued U.S. patents, raised more than $100 million to support his research efforts at Rutgers, and has founded several startup companies.

His efforts as one of the Directors of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine touched many of the most seriously injured service members. As part of this program funded by the Department of Defense, Dr. Kohn led seven clinical trials exploring new ways to alleviate scars, treat burn victims, and heal peripheral nerve injuries. His most widely known contribution is his leadership in the nation’s face transplant program. Dr. Kohn managed two face transplant surgeries performed at the Cleveland Clinic, overseeing the research efforts and patient care for some of the nation’s most severely injured patients.

The companies Dr. Kohn spun out of his laboratory have also created hundreds of jobs in New Jersey, touched hundreds of thousands of patients, and brought millions of dollars in royalty income to the state. One of his startup companies developed an antibiotic-releasing sleeve that protects pacemaker patients from hospital-acquired infections during pacemaker implantation. Dr. Kohn also invented X-ray visible polymers, which have “metal-like” properties while being fully biocompatible and biodegradable, that are now used in coronary stents used for treating cardiovascular disease around the world.

Dr. Kohn also trained and supported the careers of about 300 students and postdoctoral scientists, most of whom are now leaders in the pharma and medical technology industries. He was among five accomplished finalists nominated in this category, including Dr. Gaurav Gupta, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Director of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

Congratulations to the finalists in all categories for being recognized as Healthcare Heroes and their work toward improving lives.