Washington University in St. Louis this year celebrates two new fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. The distinction recognizes their prolific and innovative work and their contributions, which have had tangible, positive impacts on society.
The two new honorees are Jerome R. Cox Jr., senior professor emeritus in computer science and engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering, and Jack H. Ladenson, the Oree M. Carroll and Lillian B. Ladenson Professor of Clinical Chemistry in Pathology and Immunology and professor of clinical chemistry in medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Cox has been at Washington University since 1955, starting as an assistant professor after having earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In April 1964, he founded the Biomedical Computing Laboratory, whose goal was the introduction of small computers to biomedical research.
But Cox may be best known for bringing to Washington University from MIT the Laboratory INstrument Computer, or LINC, and the team that designed it.
The LINC pioneered personal computing in biomedical research at the School of Medicine and in biomedical laboratories throughout the nation. In 1975, Cox became the founding chairman of the Department of Computer Science, where, for 15 years, he guided its development and growth.
With two colleagues, Cox founded Growth Networks, which produced an advanced networking chip set and was eventually acquired by Cisco. He launched Blendics Inc., which makes computer-aided design software to assist in the development of asynchronous computing systems. He also founded Q-Net Security, a cybersecurity company that works at the physical level, using a hardware barrier to thwart cyberattacks.
Cox is a member of the National Academy of Science’s National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American College of Medical Informatics.
The Harold B. and Adelaide G. Welge Professor of Computer Science at Washington University from 1989-98, Cox was awarded an honorary doctor of science in 2001. His honors also include the 2011 Chancellor’s Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which he received along with Jonathan Turner. That same year, Cox was recognized with the then-School of Engineering & Applied Science’s Dean’s Award.
Ladenson is widely known for the development of laboratory tests for the diagnosis of heart attacks. His lab has developed monoclonal antibodies and tests based on them that allow doctors to quickly and accurately measure the presence and severity of a heart attack. The tests, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, detect the presence in blood of the protein troponin, produced by damaged heart muscle. Detection of the protein troponin has become part of the definition of myocardial infarction, or heart attack. More recently, his team has pursued diagnostic tests to detect kidney and brain damage.
He has received many honors for his research revolutionizing cardiac care, including the 2002 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry in a Selected Area of Research by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry; the first Chancellor’s Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2010; the initial Distinguished Award for Contributions to Cardiovascular Diagnostics from the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry in 2017; and the 2nd Century Award from the School of Medicine.
Since 1996, Ladenson also has served as director of clinical pathology programs at the nonprofit Pathologists Overseas Inc. In that role, he has visited more than 20 developing countries to upgrade laboratory services and the training of personnel, improve clinician education, develop standardized national laboratory systems and extend the ability to perform diagnostic tests to regional hospitals.