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Prize named for two Ohio University benefactors honors inventor of biosensors

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 21, 2005) -- Leland C. Clark Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio, was recognized Feb. 20 with the National Academy of Engineering's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize - a $500,000 cash award - for his work with biosensors. Comparable to the Nobel Prize, the biennial Russ Prize recognizes bioengineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition. Clark was honored "for bioengineering membrane-based sensors that benefit humankind in medical, food, and environmental applications." The National Academy of Engineering will present the honor at a gala dinner in Washington, D.C., this evening.

Leland Clark was awarded the 2005 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize.Fritz Russ, who established the prize with his wife, Dolores, is a 1942 electrical engineering graduate of Ohio University.

"There is no prize that I would be prouder to win," said Clark.

Considered the "father of biosensors," Clark invented the first device to rapidly determine the amount of glucose in blood. Today many of the 18.2 million Americans with diabetes rely on Clark's original glucose sensor concept for self-monitoring. In the future, an implantable biosensor - newly patented by Clark - could make blood glucose monitoring even easier by sending readings whenever needed.

The Clark Oxygen Electrode, which he invented in 1954, remains the standard for measuring dissolved oxygen in biomedical, environmental, and industrial applications. The electrode quickly measures blood oxygen levels, enabling doctors to perform 750,000 open-heart surgeries each year. Oxygen monitoring is now a requirement for hospital accreditation. It is also used to measure oxygen levels in rivers and oceans to protect wildlife populations.

Clark's nontraditional, interdisciplinary approach to problem solving has led to many breakthroughs. In addition to the implantable glucose electrode, his recent work has included research on a blood substitute and a breathable liquid. Clark was one of the founders of Synthetic Blood International Inc. He is a former University Distinguished Service Professor and Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati.

The Russ Prize was established in 1999 by Fritz and Dolores Russ through a multimillion-dollar endowment to Ohio University to honor the engineering profession and to attract more individuals to the field. The first award was presented in 2001 to Earl Bakken and Wilson Greatbatch, inventors of the first human heart pacemakers, and for the second time in 2003 to Willem Kolff for his pioneering work on artificial organs.

"Fritz and Dolores Russ, quite simply, have demonstrated a most remarkable devotion and loyalty to Ohio University. Their financial support has been singular, culminating in the endowment of one of the top two engineering prizes in the world," said Ohio University President Roderick McDavis. "But beyond their financial generosity, the Russes have given of themselves to the university, remaining steadfast in their involvement and offering generously of their counsel."

Their support and commitment to the discipline helped construct modern facilities and programs at Ohio University, Wright State University and Cedarville University. In 1994, the Ohio University's College of Engineering was re-named and dedicated to Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ.

"Fritz and Dolores have dedicated a lifetime to engineering and in the process have had a profound influence on the profession at national and state levels, not to mention at Ohio University," said Dennis Irwin, dean of Ohio University's Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

During a distinguished engineering career, Fritz Russ helped lead breakthroughs in television technology, atomic weapons testing systems, engine controls, aircraft weaponry, space flight and medical technology.

He began his career at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and later worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. In 1955, Fritz and Dolores Russ opened Systems Research Laboratory in Dayton. The company became one of the largest independent engineering and high-tech research firms of its kind and had grown to 1,000 employees when it was merged with Arvin Industries in 1987.

More information on the Russ Prize is available at www.ohio.edu/russprize.

The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, educates well-rounded professionals with both technical and team-project skills. The Russ College offers undergraduate and graduate degrees across the traditional engineering spectrum and in technology disciplines such as aviation, computer science and industrial technology. Research areas currently receiving significant funding include avionics, fuel cells, bioengineering, oil and gas pipeline corrosion, and environmental pipes and culverts. Named for alumnus Fritz Russ and his wife Dolores, the Russ College is home of the Russ Prize, one of the top three engineering prizes in the world. For more information, visit www.ohio.edu/engineering.  

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is an independent, nonprofit institution. Its members consist of the nation's premier engineers, who are elected by their peers for seminal contributions to engineering. The academy provides leadership and guidance to government on the application of engineering resources to social, economic, and security problems. Established in 1964, NAE operates under the congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1863.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu, or Director of External Relations for the Russ College of Engineering Colleen Girton, (740) 593-1488 or girtonc@ohio.edu  

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