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Two U.Va. Scientists Ranked Among World’s Top Young Innovators By Technology Review, Mit’s Magazine Of Innovation

September 21, 2004 -- Two interdisciplinary researchers at the University of Virginia — Richard Kent, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Shayn Peirce, assistant professor in biomedical engineering — were named to Technology Review’s 2004 list of the world’s 100 Top Young Innovators, the magazine announced Monday.

The TR100 list comprises 100 individuals under the age of 35 whose work may have a profound impact on technology.

Selected by the editors of Technology Review, a magazine published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an elite panel of judges, this year’s honorees represent disciplines ranging from biotechnology and medicine to computing and nanotechnology.

U.Va. was one of a handful of institutions with more than one honoree on the list. Others with multiple winners included MIT and Stanford University.

Both U.Va. researchers work at the intersection of engineering and medical science.

Kent, who holds a joint appointment in engineering and medicine, conducts research with the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and teaches in the Department of Emergency Medicine. His research in the University’s Center for Applied Biomechanics, which conducts a broad array of research related to automobile safety, focuses on developing “smart” seat belts and airbags.

Kent’s efforts, built largely on creating new mathematical algorithms, will enable seat belts and airbags to process data rapidly during an impending crash, such as how fast the car is going and the shape of the object being hit, and combine it with data about the driver, such as size, weight, bone density, position, age and health, to determine the best response of the safety equipment given the circumstances of a particular driver in a particular crash.

Peirce has designed complex, quantitative, predictive computer models that have the potential to speed up the development of new medical treatments relating to tissue growth and repair.

She has used these models to explore embryogenesis, or the process of embryo formation, and learn about the mechanics that contribute to birth defects.

She also has used them to predict blood vessel growth in response to changes in blood pressure and the presence of a growth protein. The research in blood vessel formation — believed to be a first in the emerging field of systems biology — holds promise for future developments in the treatment of chronic heart disease and diabetes through angiogenesis, or the growth of new blood vessels. The results could be used to develop new treatments for cancer that involve shutting off the blood supply to cancerous tissue.

The panel of TR100 judges featured representatives from academe and industry, including: Boston University, California Institute of Technology, Cambridge University, CombinatoRx Inc., Concept2Company Inc., Cornell University, General Electric Co., Geekcorps, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, Hewlett-Packard Development Co. L.P., IBM Corp., Intellectual Ventures LLC, Microsoft Corp., MIT, Northwestern University, PureTech Ventures LLC, Singapore Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, TIAX LLC, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Xerox Corp. and YankeeTek Ventures.

“In the five years since we began naming our annual selection of the world's top innovators under age 35, inclusion among the TR100 has become one of the most prestigious awards for young innovators around the world," said David Rotman, executive editor of Technology Review. “This year’s winners are all pioneering fascinating innovations in the fields of biomedicine, computing and nanotechnology, and were chosen after a rigorous selection and judging process. The result is an elite group whose visions and inventions will shape the future of technology.”

Kent and Peirce will be honored in Boston on Sept. 29-30 at Technology Review’s Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT.

Technology Review Inc. publishes information about emerging technologies and their impact on business leaders. The magazine, Technology Review, reports circulation of more than 300,000, which, together with other related products and services, reaches an estimated 2 million global business leaders each month.

U.Va., one of the top public universities in the country, was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. Since 1866, when a course in civil engineering was added to the University’s curriculum, the School of Engineering and Applied Science has grown to 175 full-time teaching and research faculty, 50 full-time researchers, and a student body of more than 1,900 undergraduates and 600 graduate students in eight departments.


For more information about their research, contact Richard Kent by phone at (434) 296-7288 or by email at; or, Shayn Peirce by phone at (434) 243-9335 or by email at For more information about the TR100 awards and Technology Review, contact Kristen Collins, KMC Partners, by phone at (617) 833-5574, or by email at

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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