President Yongmin Kim honored as UW Medicine Inventor of the Year

2012-09-10 1,499

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Past BIOE Chair Yongmin Kim honored as UW Medicine Inventor of the Year

Yongmin Kim’s commitment to saving lives and focus on solving clinician’s real-world problems have driven his innovations for 30 years.

Now, the man who worked with his research group to pioneer more than 85 inventions leading to 60 patents, put inventions into industry practice with 25 licenses, and helped commercialize the technologies, will be hailed as the 2012 Inventor of the Year by the UW School of Medicine. The award recognizes scientists who have worked with the biomedical industry to translate their research from the lab into practice, with a major impact on health care. Kim accepted the honor earlier this month at UW Medicine’s 9th annual Inventor of the Year ceremony.

When Kim joined the UW Bioengineering faculty in 1982, department founder Robert Rushmer asked him to collaborate with engineers, cardiologists and industry to build a burn-free defibrillator paddle. Within two years, they had solved the problem, and Kim was hooked.

That focus on benefitting the public inspired Kim to continue to work closely with physicians and industry, creatively sleuthing out solutions that would address specific problems. While at the UW, he developed cost-saving technology to make ultrasound machines reprogrammable, figured out how to image the body in three-dimensional ultrasound, and produced real-time tissue elastography, a technology that reveals abnormal tissue elasticity, which can indicate cancer. In his varied work on next-generation ultrasound imaging systems, Kim worked extensively with companies such as Texas Instruments, Siemens Medical, Hitachi Medical, Samsung, Canon and IBM and what is now Medtronics Physio-Control.

Kim served as chair of the Department of Bioengineering from 1999-2007, and in 2011, became president of Pohang University of Science and Technology in his native South Korea. He is currently an affiliate professor of bioengineering and electrical engineering at the UW.

Kim was profiled in his new position recently by the Korea Herald, an English-language publication in South Korea.