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Winner of the Inventor of the Year Award 2021 : Dr. Donald Waller

Dr. Donald Waller
Professor Emeritus
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Pharmacy

Congratulations Dr. Donald Waller!

The Office of Technology Management is honored to present the 2021 Inventor of the Year award to Dr. Donald Waller for the development of two novel therapeutics for the improvement of women’s reproductive health: acidform and polyphenylene carboxymethylene (PPCM).. Dr. Waller dedicated his career at UIC to improving women’s reproductive health with mission to empower women with products that are women-controlled, over-the-counter, readily available, and affordable throughout the world.

Dr. Waller developed a novel contraceptive, called acidform (also known as Phexxi). It is a non-hormonal vaginal contraceptive gel that also prevents sexually transmitted diseases. Acidform works by stabilization of the acidic pH of the vagina which prevents sperm from penetrating the egg and pathogenic organism from entering tissues. Acidform was licensed to Evofem Biosciences and FDA approved for contraception in May 2020. While already in the market as a contraceptive, acidform is currently in phase 3 clinical trial for prevention of chlamydia and gonorrhea in women.

A second notable discovery by Dr. Waller is a small polymer, polyphenylene carboxymethylene (PPCM), that has both contraceptive and STD prevention activities. PPCM causes sperm to prematurely lose the acrosome and inhibits hyaluronidase, a critical enzyme needed for fertilization. Thus, sperm are unable to fertilize an ovum. PPCM can prevent viral infection by inhibiting viral binding and fusion to a host cell by attaching to and blocking key viral binding sites. PPCM was licensed to Yaso Therapeutics and an FDA investigational new drug submission is planned for early 2022.

Dr. Waller’s contribution and commitment to women’s health make him well deserving of the Inventor of the Year Award!

The Inventor of the Year Award honors an outstanding inventor at University of Illinois at Chicago who have made a contribution to the development of intellectual property that significantly impacts their field and society. The award is given based on the criteria of creativity, novelty, and the commercial benefit to society.

OTM will honor Dr. Waller’s achievement during its annual Innovation Celebration on September 15, 2022.