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Categories:  Faculty, Research

Craig Niederberger: Innovator of the Year

Craig Niederberger

Craig Niederberger is co-inventor of a device to treat a stress urinary incontinence, a common ailment for women. Photo: UIC Photo Services

The Innovator of the Year Award is presented by the UIC Office of Technology Management to a campus researcher working to advance his or her invention towards commercialization, through licensing or entrepreneurial efforts.

As a urologist specializing in male reproductive medicine, Craig Niederberger takes an active role in educating patients about andrology and male infertility.

His unique background in engineering and his knack for inventiveness have led to real-world applications to improve patient outcomes.

Niederberger, head and Clarence C. Saelhof professor of urology and professor of bioengineering, is co-founder and chief technology officer of NexHand Inc.

The medical device company, founded in 2011, seeks to improve the diagnosis and treatment of stress urinary incontinence in women, a common and often embarrassing condition that affects more than 17 million in the U.S.

Niederberger is one of the inventors of a sensor-based, noninvasive diagnostic tool that measures the severity of stress urinary incontinence.

NexHand technology also measures the force applied to the urethra to aid in surgical treatment of the disorder.

“Dr. Niederberger approaches medicine with a curiosity toward innovation, not accepting the traditional mindset of the surgeons who practice technique solely by the methods [with] which they were trained,” wrote Sam Ohlander, a urology resident who nominated Niederberger for the award.

Niederberger is also studying the pressure a bike seat exerts on the male anatomy during bike riding to see if it causes sexual dysfunction in men. His work to improve bicycle seat designs has drawn interest from bike component manufacturers.

As a mentor and educator of medical students, residents, fellows, engineering undergraduates and graduate students, Niederberger “remains ever available and encourages his students to alter their perspective and seek innovation,” Ohlander said.

He insists his urology research residents learn a computer programming language, a requirement unique to that residency.

An international leader in urologic research with more than 100 journal publications, Niederberger is co-editor of Fertility and Sterility and section editor for the Journal of Urology. His blog, “Male Health,” offers clear, easy-to-understand information about male infertility and sexual dysfunction.

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