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Jefferson’s Cortimo Clinical Trial Named Finalist in Health Category of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards

PHILADELPHIA — The winners of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards were announced yesterday, honoring clean technology, brave new designs for cities and buildings, and other creative works that are supporting the growth of positive social innovation, tackling social inequality, climate change, and public health crises. A Philadelphia-based innovative and inspirational clinical trial called Cortimo, led by Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, was honored in the World Changing Ideas’ health category.  

At only 39 years old, Aaron Ulland suffered a stroke without any warning. He spent the next two years working to regain the ability to walk and speak. But his left arm remained weak, mostly unusable. Then, Aaron enrolled in the Cortimo trial at Thomas Jefferson University/Jefferson Health, the first clinical trial of its kind to test whether implanted brain electrodes could help someone with this common type of stroke control a motorized brace to improve mobility in his disabled arm — with his thoughts.  

With the help of artificial intelligence algorithms that interpreted his brain signals, Aaron was able to learn to control the brace and show that it’s possible for patients like him to benefit from brain-controlled motorized braces. Jefferson researchers are now on a mission to expand this pioneering research and refine the technology so one day more stroke patients can use a device to restore mobility. The Cortimo trial is spurring further studies that could one day lead to life-changing mobility for hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.  

Now in its sixth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 39 winners, 350 finalists, and more than 600 honorable mentions — with climate, social justice, and AI and data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 2,997 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, health, social justice, and more. In addition, several new categories have been added this year including climate, nature, water, and workplace. The 2022 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Switzerland to Hong Kong to Australia. 

“I am honored that Jefferson's Cortimo trial is recognized as a World Changing Idea,” said Dr. Bruce A. Meyer, President of Jefferson Health and Senior Executive Vice President of Thomas Jefferson University. This study brings new hope for stroke recovery and none of it would be possible without Aaron Ulland, a pioneer patient who committed months of his life to help other stroke patients like him." 

Dr. Mark L. Tykocinski, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Thomas Jefferson University added, “This breakthrough research served as a proof of concept and necessary bridge for additional studies that will pave the way for a future in which people with permanent disability from stroke — and other types of nerve damage — can regain function. It exemplifies the countless ways Jefferson researchers are working to drive discovery and uncover new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat illness.” 

“We are consistently inspired by the novelty and creativity that people are applying to solve some of our society’s most pressing problems, from shelter to the climate crisis. Fast Company relishes its role in amplifying important, innovative work to address big challenges,” says David Lidsky, interim editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists have identified some of the most ingenious initiatives to launch since the start of 2021, which we hope will both have a meaningful impact and lead others to join in being part of the solution.”

Fast Company’s Summer 2022 issue (on newsstands May 10, 2022) will showcase some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and companies tackling global challenges. The issues highlight, among others, probiotics for coral reefs, easy-to-assemble kit homes for refugees or disaster survivors, a 3D printed vaccine patch, an electric truck, a system to heat homes from the waste heat of a name-brand factory, and prosecutor-initiated resentencing for overly long prison sentences.

Watch this video about the Cortimo trial to learn more:

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About the World Changing Ideas Awards: 

World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all. 

About Jefferson:

Jefferson, located in the greater Philadelphia region and southern New Jersey, is reimagining health care and education to create unparalleled value. Jefferson is more than 42,000 people strong, dedicated to providing the highest-quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, preparing tomorrow’s professional leaders for 21st century careers, and discovering new treatments to define the future of care. Thomas Jefferson University, home of Sidney Kimmel Medical College, dates back to 1824 and today comprises 10 colleges and four schools offering over 200 undergraduate and graduate programs to 8,200 students. Jefferson Health serves patients through millions of encounters each year at 18 hospitals (10 are Magnet® designated by the ANCC for nursing excellence) and over 50 outpatient and urgent care locations throughout the region. Jefferson is also home to Health Partners Plans, a not-for-profit managed healthcare organization serving more than 290,000 members in Southeastern Pennsylvania with a broad range of health coverage options through Health Partners Medicare, Health Partners (Medicaid) and KidzPartners (Children’s Health Insurance Program. 

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