17:30 PM

Distinguished Professor William Wagner wins Marlin Mickle Outstanding Innovator Award

Working as an engineer and biomaterials scientist, William R. Wagner can look at complex disease pathologies and compare them to everyday problems – from clogging pipes to corroding structures. 

Wagner, distinguished professor of surgery, bioengineering and chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, leads The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which assembles teams of researchers and pioneers in clinical, engineering, and basic science enterprise to develop new approaches to organ and tissue failure.

For his leadership at the institute and work as an inventor, Wagner received the Marlin Mickle Outstanding Innovator Award at Pitt’s Celebration of Innovation. The prestigious award honors the late Mickle, a Pitt alumnus (BSEE ‘61, MSEE ‘63, PhD ‘67) innovator, and emeritus professor of electrical and computer engineering who holds the University record for invention disclosures filed, patents issues and startups formed. 


“It’s a high honor to be recognized in this way and share it with so many collaborators over the years,” Wagner said. “I am also very happy to see the University recognize the impact that its innovation activity can have on society – and to celebrate that role.” 

Wagner continued that the award demonstrates to Pitt’s young innovators that working in an entrepreneurship environment to create solutions is possible and that Pitt recognizes and supports those efforts.

The McGowan Institute doesn’t consider its mission fulfilled until its technology reaches a patent; however, Wagner said the ultimate goal is to reduce suffering and improve the quality of life for patients. 

“While we’ve had technology advances make it to patients, I believe that the greater future impact of my laboratory’s work will come from building upon and advancing the work we’ve done. Every advance not only better serves future patients, but also trainees in our institute who are learning how to create and invent in a collaborative environment.”  

The Institute of Innovation’s annual Pitt Celebration of Innovation recognizes faculty and students who have achieved a major innovation milestone, such as submitting an invention disclosure, obtaining a patent, or launching a startup company. The Swanson School of Engineering has a successful track record for the ceremony. Eric Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor and the George M. Bevier Professor of Engineering, was selected as the Marlin Mickle Outstanding Innovator recipient in 2022; and William Federspiel, the John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, was selected in 2021

 About William R. Wagner 

Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering 

Wagner has served as Scientific Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center on “Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials” and Chief Science Officer for the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of one of the leading biomaterials journals, Acta Biomaterialia. He is current president of the Society for Biomaterials, past-president of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) and past chairman of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) Americas region. He is a fellow and former vice president of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and has also been elected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, Biomedical Engineering Society, the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering, TERMIS, the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American Heart Association. In 2006 he was selected to the “Scientific American 50,” the magazine’s annual list recognizing leaders in science and technology from the research, business and policy fields.

Wagner's research interests are in cardiovascular engineering with projects that address medical device biocompatibility and design, biomaterial development, and tissue engineering. His work has generated numerous patents (49 issued to date) and patent filings that have resulted in licensing activity, the formation of three companies, one of which initiated two clinical trials. (Read more)