Mass Spectrometry at Oak Ridge: Commercial Successes
Gary J. Van Berkel, former Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher and group leader, and owner and chief scientific officer of Van Berkel Ventures, LLC, Oak Ridge, TN
Mass spectrometers enable users to identify unknown compounds via molecular weight determination (based on mass and charge), to quantify known compounds and to determine structure and chemical properties of molecules. Mass spectrometry has been used for drug testing and discovery, food contamination detection, pesticide residue analysis, isotope ratio determination, protein identification and carbon dating.
Van Berkel will provide a very brief history of mass spectrometry research and developments at ORNL, followed by a discussion of his approach to innovative research and commercialization that led to major products in the marketplace that he invented or co-invented at ORNL and at Van Berkel Ventures. Some products are involved in introducing samples into mass spectrometers for analysis.
His presentation will focus on the Open Port Sampling Interface intellectual property (IP) portfolio established mostly while he was at ORNL, the licensing of this IP, the major commercial products that have evolved to date from the portfolio, the application areas and the scientific and potential economic impact of one of these products. He will conclude this talk by revealing two new ventures that are relevant to us in Oak Ridge.
Van Berkel Ventures, LLC, is an analytical measurement science, innovation, research, consulting and writing firm in Oak Ridge. Before starting his company early in 2018, Gary was group leader of and distinguished scientist in the Mass Spectrometry and Laser Spectroscopy Group at ORNL. His most notable work in the 1990s led to an elucidation of the electrochemical aspects of electrospray ionization for which he was awarded the 2005 Biemann Medal by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry.
His fundamental mass spectrometry research focuses on atmospheric pressure ion sources and on the novel configuration and application of these ion sources to solve analytical problems. For the past two decades, he has emphasized inventing and commercializing novel sampling and sample introduction methods for mass spectrometry.
Gary earned his B.A. degree in chemistry from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Washington State University. He has published 178 refereed journal papers that have been cited more than 13,400 times, has been awarded 35 patents and received numerous awards, including the Department of Energy Federal Laboratory Consortium Excellence in Technology Transfer Award, three R&D 100 awards, the Beynon Award and several UT-Battelle/ORNL awards. They include the UT-Battelle Distinguished Inventor, ORNL Inventor of the Year and ORNL Director’s Awards (Scientist of the Year), as well as the ORNL Science Communicator Award “For Educating Public Officials about Technology Pertinent to Homeland Security and Advancing ORNL’s Role in Homeland Security.”