It all started with a chemistry set. Or maybe it was the time his parents gave him a frog to dissect. Either way, Alexander W. Dromerick, MD, knew at an early age “I wanted to be a scientist and help with problems related to health,” he explained. Today, Dr. Dromerick sees himself as more of a researcher and inventor than a strict “scientist.” He joined MedStar Health seven years ago, and is currently the Director of the Neuroscience Research Center and the Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network.
When he read about MedStar Inventor Services in a newsletter, Dr. Dromerick felt the team could help him with the many inventions he’s presently developing. “I also heard good things about the MedStar Inventor Services team from my colleagues,” he disclosed. “I appreciate the team’s attention to detail, insight and follow-up. They gave us great feedback on patents and intellectual property protection for our inventions, and are very helpful at keeping track of the various timelines and countless technicalities. In addition, they have many opportunities to open doors for funding.”
A leader in his field, Dr. Dromerick’s specializes in stroke rehabilitation and brain trauma recovery techniques. One of his current inventions combines cognitive neuroscience, technical engineering and biostatistics to screen individuals at risk for subtle brain dysfunction. Dr. Dromerick and colleagues have developed a portable test for mild cognitive impairment (concussion) and can be deployed on the battlefront, sidelines or in-theater situations. In the civilian world, football, lacrosse and hockey players are all at a high risk for concussions. The device will noninvasively test for mild traumatic brain injury in minutes, helping to pull affected players and soldiers out of harm’s way.
Working with Dr. Dromerick on this new invention are Drs. Peter Lum and Rochelle Trachtenberg. Peter Lum, PhD is Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Catholic University and Director of the Center for Applied Biomechanics Rehabilitation Research at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network. Rochelle Tractenberg, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine who specializes in Neurology Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Biomathematics. “We all needed each other’s expertise and different skill sets,” Dr. Dromerick revealed. “Although it’s in the early stages of development, our invention is very promising and we’re all very excited with the progress.”
Dr. Dromerick disclosed this invention to Inventor Services who then applied for patent protection prior to making the work public. While the system was portable, it was not particularly mobile and with the help of Inventor Services, a new prototype and iOS app was developed. This prototype will be used to validate the research that Dr. Dromerick and his colleagues have previously completed. Once the proof of concept studies are complete, MedStar Inventor Services will begin securing a licensee for further commercialization.
As for advice to MedStar Health associates who are thinking about becoming inventors, Dr. Dromerick believes in the “do what you know” philosophy. “But it’s also important to act like a whale,” he remarked. “A whale has to suck in as much algae as possible to survive, and I try to suck in as much new information as I can to learn about topics I don’t know much about. It leads to new ideas, new information, new thoughts and ultimately new inventions.”