INBT Alumni Allen Y. Wang Awarded Johnson Medal

The Institute for NanoBioTechnology and Department of Materials Science and Engineering alumni Allen Y. Wang (’07) was awarded the prestigious Johnson Medal for his development of a fast-acting powder to stop disruptive bleeding during surgical procedures. The award recognizes Research and Development personnel for excellence in breakthrough, innovative work aimed to benefit patients and consumers around the world.

In his 13th year with the company, Wang serves as principal scientist in the Biosurgery R&D team at Ethicon Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, where he developed the Surgicel® Powder Absorbable Hemostat. The interdisciplinary team including scientists, engineers, designers, and clinicians, worked together for nearly eight years to develop the life-saving product used during surgeries to stop disruptive bleeding.

While hemostats already existed in many forms from fabric and sponges to liquid, these forms are not effective in uncontrolled bleeding situations. Wang’s goal was to help improve successful outcomes for surgeons and patients faced with the phenomenon. The Surgicel® powder, composed of oxidized regenerated cellulose fiber, is made through a series of proprietary and innovative manufacturing processes. The team also developed a delivery device so surgeons have more control when applying the product. Surgicel® Powder is designed to target continuous broad oozing bleeding where the source can be difficult and time consuming to locate, which occurs more than 50% of all surgeries and procedures.

“We wanted to focus on optimal patient outcomes by helping surgeons provide fast, effective, and durable hemostasis during surgeries,” said Wang.

While at Johns Hopkins University, Wang studied under professors Tim Weihs, Jonah Erlebacher and Howard Katz, Todd Hufnagel,  Peter Searson, Jim Spicer, and Kalina Hristova in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and INBT associate director and core member Hai-Quan Mao advised him as a member of his PhD committee. Currently, he supervises an INBT graduate student through the Master’s Industry Co-Op and one of his biggest goals is to inspire early-career researchers to be innovative and inspired by the world around them. Wang can speak on this as the idea for Surgicel® Powder came to him in a most unconventional way.

Going forward, Wang hopes to develop more transformational lifesaving products at Johnson & Johnson.

“I am honored to receive the Johnson Medal and I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to work together, innovate, and bring this product to market to help patients,” says Wang.

Read more about the Johnson Medal and other 2020 recipients here.

By Amy Weldon