January 29, 2009

State's first Nelson Award goes to Leslie Geddes

Leslie Geddes
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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has named Purdue University's Leslie Geddes the first recipient of the Dr. Philip E. Nelson Innovation Prize.

Geddes is the Showalter Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Engineering.

Nelson is a Purdue professor of food science and the winner of the 2007 World Food Prize for his revolutionary achievements in food processing. In his name, the state created the award to recognize outstanding Hoosier scientists for unique discoveries, research and inventions.

"The work of a great scientist and inventor like Dr. Geddes does more to improve people's lives than that of any politician or business leader," Daniels said. "The contributions he has made to our state not only through his scientific innovations but also the lives he has inspired are exactly why we honor him today."

During a career that has stretched over more than half a century, Geddes, 87, has developed innovations ranging from burn treatments to miniature defibrillators, ligament repair to tiny blood pressure monitors for premature infants.

He officially retired in 1991, but he continues to work at Purdue every day, teaching and working on research projects.

"I think one of his key attributes is his ability to inspire people, including students, faculty and industrial collaborators, to think creatively and to innovate," said George Wodicka, head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. "Everyone who works with him is energized by his curiosity and his willingness to test out new ideas."

In 1974 Purdue recruited Geddes, who began his career in 1952 at the Baylor University College of Medicine, to help develop an organized biomedical engineering research center and create new technologies in the field.

In 2004 Geddes received the university's Outstanding Commercialization Award to recognize his 30 patents, many now licensed by Indiana companies. Patents and technologies emerging from Geddes' lab have generated $15 million in royalties for Purdue.

His most recent discovery is a new method for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation that he says will be more effective than standard CPR.

Geddes, who was born in Port Gordon, Scotland, earned bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from McGill University and a doctoral degree in physiology from Baylor University College of Medicine. He received an honorary doctoral degree from McGill in 1971.

Geddes received the 2006 National Medal of Technology from President George W. Bush. The award is the nation's highest honor for technological innovation.

In announcing the establishment of the Nelson Innovation award, Daniels said: "It's time we lifted up and honored those Hoosiers whose scientific achievements will make us the great state we intend to be."

Nelson joined the Purdue faculty in 1961, where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He has spent his career pursuing research that led to the development of the aseptic processing and packaging of vegetables and fruits. His award-winning innovations are present in nearly every country world in the world and have had a positive impact on the world food supply.

The award selection committee consisted of five Hoosier scientists from the state's universities and private industry. Geddes will receive a $5,000 honorarium from the privately funded Indiana Economic Development Foundation.

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, (765) 494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Source: Office of the Governor, (317) 232-1800, brateike@gov.in.gov

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

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