UVA School of Medicine’s Lee Ritterband named 2019 Innovator of the Year

uva school of medicineThe University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group has named Lee M. Ritterband, Ph.D., the 2019 Edlich-Henderson Innovator of the Year, an award given to University faculty members whose research discoveries are making a major impact.

Ritterband, the director of the Center for Behavioral Health & Technology at the UVA School of Medicine, is recognized for pioneering the development of digital therapeutics for various behavioral health issues and his efforts to make them widely accessible via commercialization.

Notably, Ritterband developed Sleep Healthy Using the Internet (SHUTi) which is a digital therapeutic that uses cutting-edge technology to administer cognitive behavioral therapy for people suffering from insomnia. In 2011, Ritterband co-founded BeHealth Solutions, LLC with Joesph Jennings and former UVA faculty member Frances Thorndike, to deliver digital health solutions, including SHUTi, that expand access to affordable and effective behavioral health care.

“We are thrilled to honor Dr. Lee Ritterband for his work pioneering the integration of digital solutions for patients living with a variety of issues including insomnia, cancer, diabetes, and substance abuse, just to name a few,” said Michael Straightiff, executive director of UVA LVG. “Ritterband sits firmly at the helm of this emerging field and his efforts to make these treatments available on a mass scale through commercialization stands to significantly reduce the overall cost of behavioral health care.”

In addition to his recent work with SHUTi, Ritterband and the Center for Behavioral Health and Technology support the development of other internet interventions including:

  • CARRII, to reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancy risk;
  • UCanPoopToo, to help families of children with encopresis;
  • mySmartSkin, to increase skin self-examination and sun protection behaviors among patients with melanoma
  • BGATHome, to help diabetes patients recognize and anticipate extreme blood glucose fluctuations;
  • iSHIFTup, to prevent pressure ulcers in adults with spinal cord injury

“As a clinical psychologist one of the things I was trained to do was help people,” Ritterband said. “Digital therapeutics allow me to do it in a much broader way. Instead of the hundreds of people we might be able to help in a clinic, we can scale these platforms to help thousands, tens of thousands or maybe millions at some point by making these kinds of interventions available.”

Ritterband said he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what he has without collaboration from his many colleagues and multi-disciplinary center team at UVA, support of the School of Medicine and his department of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences, and strategic partners like UVA LVG.

UVA LVG will be celebrating Ritterband at the 2019 Innovator of the Year Award Ceremony in the Rotunda Dome Rome on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. All are welcome to attend this free public event, though registration is required.

About Edlich-Henderson Innovator of the Year Award

The highest honor bestowed on University of Virginia innovators since 1992, the Edlich-Henderson Innovator of the Year award recognizes an individual or team each year whose research is making a major impact. Named for former UVA Professor Dr. Richard F. Edlich and Christopher J. (“Goose”) Henderson, a 25-year veteran of privately owned financial services businesses, the award is a tribute to their enduring support of and commitment to the University and its innovators. The endowed award is managed by the UVA Licensing & Ventures Group (LVG). Award winners receive a $10,000 cash prize and formal recognition at a special awards reception.

About University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group

The Licensing & Ventures Group is the University of Virginia intellectual property management and innovation commercialization organization for UVA’s research portfolio (lvg.virginia.edu). Founded in 1977 as a 501(c)(3) UVA affiliated foundation, UVA LVG receives approximately 200 invention disclosures, executes 80 commercial transactions, and launches five to seven new companies each year. During the 2018 fiscal year, UVA LVG was awarded 162 patents in the US and abroad. Its mission is to maximize the impact of UVA innovation assets via commercialization while providing high levels of customer service, value-added business development, new venture creation, and a focus on driving quality transactions.

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