Professor named as next Entrepreneur-in-Residence by Purdue’s Burton D. Morgan Center

August 20, 2012  


Jessica Huber

Jessica Huber, an associate professor in Purdue's Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, will serve as the 2012-13 faculty entrepreneur-in-residence for the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. She has developed a new technology, called SpeechVive, which helps Parkinson's disease patients overcome the tendency to speak too quietly. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University speech, language and hearing sciences professor Jessica Huber has been named the 2012-13 faculty entrepreneur-in-residence at Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

Huber plans to develop a group of "Entrepreneurial Liaisons" from a variety of Purdue departments and units who can serve as resources for faculty on entrepreneurship. She also will host a series of discussion meetings on common issues faced by faculty who are working toward commercialization with their research.

"It is extremely important that we, as researchers, translate our findings into practice, whether that is through for-profit or nonprofit commercialization," she said. "Purdue has demonstrated a strong commitment to commercialization efforts through the development of resources like the Burton D. Morgan Center and Discovery Park. I am committed to helping faculty and students who need help finding resources to develop their ideas."

Huber succeeds Purdue biomedical engineering professor Alyssa Panitch, who served as the inaugural entrepreneur-in-residence for the Burton D. Morgan Center.

"Purdue is fortunate to have some of the most innovative faculty in the world, including many who have successfully translated that innovation into high-impact commercial products," said Richard Cosier, the Avrum and Joyce Gray Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for 
Entrepreneurship and Purdue's Leeds Professor of Management.

"The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship is pleased to welcome one such person, Dr. Jessica Huber, as the 2012-13 academic year faculty entrepreneur-in-residence. She will share her extensive experience and expertise with faculty and students wishing to develop and commercialize their technologies."

Huber has developed SpeechVive, a device that cues patients to speak louder and more clearly. The device, which rests in the patient's ear, provides a stream of noise similar to the background chatter at a party, cueing the patient to naturally talk louder. This response is known as the Lombard effect.

A member of the Purdue faculty since 2001, Huber is working with the Purdue Research Foundation to bring the device to market, which could be as early as 2013, for addressing a need for those battling Parkinson's disease.

The first clinical trial with 39 patients was positive, and even inspired a new wireless version. Purdue has filed a patent on her SpeechVive concept.

Huber's research is spotlighted in the latest Purdue Difference Makers website.

A critical part of Huber's research is to integrate the voice-detection sensor, or an accelerometer, developed in work led by biomedical engineering doctoral students Matias Zanartu and Julio C. Ho, and biomedical engineering professor George Wodicka, head of Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Jim Jones, engineering resources manager at Purdue, and senior research engineer Kirk Foster led the design of the first-generation of SpeechVive that was used in the human clinical trials.

Parkinson's affects 1.5 million people in the United States and is one of the most common degenerative neurological diseases. About 89 percent of those with Parkinson's have voice-related change, which is related to how loudly they speak, while 45 percent of those with Parkinson's are affected by how clearly they speak.

Huber also was a member of Purdue's Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy class of 2011-12, which she said helped her understand how to share her experiences with faculty members and students to better prepare them for the challenges of entrepreneurship and industry. The program is part of the Kauffman Campuses Initiative at the Burton D. Morgan Center.

Huber received her doctoral degree in speech science and a master's degree in speech and language pathology, both from the University at Buffalo - State University of New York. Her bachelor's degree is in English from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y.

The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, through its sponsored initiatives and partnerships - including the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Technology Realization Program, Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and business plan competitions - aims to stimulate entrepreneurship at Purdue and serves as a state, regional and national resource.

Opened in 2004, the 31,000-square-foot, two-story Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship was the first building completed in Discovery Park, the university's $750 million interdisciplinary research complex for large-scale projects. The Burton D. Morgan Foundation provided funding for the $7 million building. 

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources: Jessica Huber, 765-494-3796, jhuber@purdue.edu

Richard Cosier, 765-494-4366, rcosier@purdue.edu

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