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Photo of Arlyne Simon standing in front of the United States Patent and Trademark Office's "Women of Innovation" exhibit
Celebrating Women of Innovation
1024 683 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

Women inventors and scientists have made lasting contributions to our nation’s history, but why is it that many people are unable to name one female inventor, but can easily recall male inventors or scientists such as Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein?

Take one woman inventor for example. Actress Hedy Lamarr was best known for her work in Hollywood during MGM’s Golden Age, starring in such films as Ziegfeld Girl (1941), White Cargo (1942), and Samson and Delilah (1949). But Lamarr also worked with Hollywood composer George Antheil to invent and patent a frequency hopping technique that today is referenced as an important development in the field of wireless communications. Lamarr and Antheil’s frequency hopping reduced the risk of detection or jamming of radio-controlled torpedoes.

Commemorating Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme of “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business,” the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) long-time private sector partner, has developed an impressive display featuring women inventors in the atrium of the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA. The colorful pictorial exhibit highlights the accomplishments of ten innovative women for their breakthrough contributions and inspiration, empowering current and future generations of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

In addition to inventors such as Hedy Lamar, the exhibit showcases women innovators of all ages, from Made by Girls Scholar Landri Drude, who participated in Camp Invention, to Elizabeth Hunter, who was a finalist in the Collegiate Inventors Competition. These women are vital role models and contributors to the fabric of American innovation and technology.

In today’s innovation-based economy, it is important to remove barriers and expand opportunities for women in STEM.  Through the All in STEM Initiative, the USPTO is encouraging women at all stages of their lives to pursue STEM degrees and work in STEM careers for the benefit of our economy and society. Follow the USPTO on Twitter and keep up with our efforts through #AllinSTEM and #PeopleofPTO.

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Helping expedite diagnoses for patients in Kenya
1024 768 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

By Arlyne Simon, Ph.D.

“Habari! Habari yako?” That is how I was greeted every morning by each of the 14 lab employees at the Nyamira Country Referral Hospital Lab in Kenya. It means “Hello! How are you?” As my Swahili improved during my three weeks as a BD Labs for Life Fellow, my response went from “Nzuri” (I’m fine) to “Poa, asante sana” (Good, thank you very much).

Within one hour of meeting us, our Kenyan colleagues gave us Kisii names; Lori was called Kerubo and I was named Kemunto (pronounced kay-moon-toe)

Labs for Life is a public-private partnership between Becton Dickison (BD), the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) and the Centers for Disease Control. The goal is to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa by working with local governments to improve their labs’ quality management system so they can become ISO 15189-accredited within 18 months. Every year, BD sends a group of fellows to mentor medical lab technicians in Africa, and this past January, I was privileged to be one of them. My assigned partner was Lori A., a clinical sales consultant in BD Canada. For three weeks, we worked side by side with our Kenyan colleagues as they diagnosed patients with diseases like malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.

During the first few days, we conducted a baseline assessment of the lab and identified key areas for improvement. To promote staff engagement, we formed three lab committees: quality improvement, biosafety and biosecurity, and customer care and conflict resolution. Promptly at 9 a.m., we delivered daily seminar talks, highlighting the need for healthcare worker safety and quality patient care.

Before our arrival, the labs had many gaps in how it operated. There was no quality manual and no formal template for standard operating procedures (SOP). Few lab instruments showed proof of regular calibration and none of the instruments were validated. Access was not restricted, so it was not uncommon to see doctors and couriers freely enter the lab. Chemicals were not properly stored.

Our mentorship empowered the staff to make significant improvements. By week three, the lab’s quality manual was 70% completed, and an SOP template had been created. We provided equipment validation training to the staff, validating the chemistry analyzer. Calibration and preventive maintenance “due date” stickers were placed on each instrument. The lab was locked to prevent unauthorized access. Chemicals were stored appropriately.

We also optimized the lab’s workflow and proposed a layout for lab expansion, which the medical superintendent and Minister of Health fully supported. The customer care committee created a customer feedback form as a quality indicator tracker and Lori (who the staff gave the Kisii name Kerubo) administered phlebotomy competency training.

Without a doubt, this experience has been one of the highlights of my career. It has re-ignited my passion for creating new point-of-care technologies and shaped the way that I will design medical devices for developing countries. With limited space and frequent power outages, developing labs need instruments that are simple, user-friendly, compact and robust. The more rapid the tests, the faster patients can be diagnosed and the earlier critical treatment can be administered.

STEM Innovation Webinar
1024 359 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

Listen to the panel discussion at

The Next Generation of Youth Entrepreneurs in STEM Innovation
1024 683 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

Long before the concept of STEM entered the American lexicon, African-American scientists, educators, and entrepreneurs were creating important products, services, and businesses that helped shape the American economy. From Benjamin Banneker, a mathematician and polymath in 18th Century Maryland, to Dr. Charles Drew, a 20th Century doctor and blood specialist who revolutionized the process of blood transfusions, our nation has prospered and developed as a global leader in science, economics, and business, thanks to the significant contributions of men and women of color.

The stakes are high: America’s future success in the global arena depends on our ability to foster innovation within communities that historically have been under-served. As the world’s top scientists and engineers pave the way for new breakthroughs across emerging industries, the U.S. continues to be the global leader in science and technology discoveries. The Obama Administration has championed the 21st century STEM revolution.

However, as the demand for STEM careers increases, experts and business leaders across the country have expressed their concern with the lack of skilled workforce that can support the American innovation economy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, African-Americans and Hispanics have been consistently under-represented in STEM employment. Addressing this widening gap is a vital issue and we must leverage the potential expertise of every American to expand the U.S. footprint in the next era of innovation.

On February 24, 2016, at 2 p.m. EST, please join us for a live webinar focused on strategies for increasing the participation of African-Americans and Latinos in STEM careers and entrepreneurship opportunities.

America’s Innovation Future

Centered on youth entrepreneurship and STEM innovation, the webinar will be led by two leading experts in the field: Justin Tanner, MBDA Associate Director of the Office of Legislative, Education and Intergovernmental Affairs and Joyce Ward, USPTO Director of the Office of Education and Outreach. Also joining the conversation is Dr. James E. West, co-inventor of the electret microphone used in most telephones and a 1999 Inductee to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Calvin Mackie, Executive Director of STEM NOLA, will also discuss his work in New Orleans to train and motivate young STEM innovators. The webinar will showcase two young innovators, Arlyne Simon and Keiana Cavé, as they share their motivation to spearhead STEM discoveries for their generation.

The participants will share their unique experience as it relates to STEM innovation, and outline prescriptions for increasing pathways to success for young African-Americans and other people of color.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Role in Strengthening Inclusion

During the webinar, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about federal, state and local resources available to the youth in the area of STEM innovation and hear first-hand about the great programs at the U.S. Department of Commerce that support the next generation of STEM leaders.

At the U.S. Department of Commerce, we understand that we cannot begin conversations about strengthening U.S. innovation without first talking about investing in tomorrow’s workforce. We embrace the fact that we need to encourage a young generation of engineers and scientists to become business and tech savvy. In order for us to remain a world leader in the global marketplace, we must leverage our diversity in the most strategic ways.

This begins with advancing our commitment to serving historically disadvantaged groups which have all too often remain untapped and underutilized. This is the perfect time to support the diverse millennial talent base, as it continues to shape and fast-track technological change. This begins with the supporting a new pipeline of youth innovators that are equipped with the skills to spur innovation and create the opportunities of the future.

This article was originally published at

PhasiQ Awarded NSF Grant to Develop Multiplex Protein Biomarker Test for DVT
1024 260 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

Immunoassay developer PhasiQ this week received a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop and commercialize an ELISA-based multiplex protein biomarker test for identifying patients with deep vein…

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