The University of Washingtonis celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Founded in 1861 on ten acres of land donated by the Denny, Terry and Lander families. The UW began with one building, one faculty member who doubled as school President, and a handful of students. Since then, the school has expanded to three campuses, a top-ranked medical center and thousands of students doing groundbreaking work.

One ofthe latest developments to come from the University could transform research about AIDS and other scientific challenges. A group of online gamers took on the challenge of locking the protein structure of an AIDS-like virus that scientists have been unable to figure out for a decade. They did it in three weeks.

Three members of that team: Dr. Seth Cooper, creator and lead developer for Foldit, the system tused in this breakthrough; Dr. Zoran Popovic, the Director at the University of Washington's Center for Game Science; and Dr. Firas Khatib, a post-doctoral researcher in the UW's Department of Biochemistry joined Margaret to talk about their amazing accomplishment. They shared how they achieved their results and talked about their work to help revolutionize K-12 education by getting students involved in tackling math and science using gaming methods.

To learn more about Foldit and the team's groundbreaking achievement, please click here.

Here are just a few of the innovative developments to come from University of Washington alumni and researchers:

  • UW Medicine professor Belding Scribner came up with the idea of implanting a Teflon shunt in patients with kidney failure. This allowed repeated, long-term use of dialysis machines that clean the blood, extending the lives of kidney patients significantly. Wayne Quinton, '58, the father of bioengineering, created more than 30 innovative medical devices, including the shunt used by Dr. Scribner. Engineering professor Albert Babb then helped invent a home kidney dialysis machine that has saved millions of lives.
  • Considered one of biotechnology's greatest triumphs, the vaccine for Hepatitis B was the result of basic research conducted by Genetics professor Ben Hall and his team.
  • Bionic contact lenses developed by UW electrical engineer Babak Parviz were selected asamong of the 50 best inventions of 2008 by Time magazine. The lenses create a display over the wearer's visual field, so that images, maps, data, etc., appear to float in midair.
  • Maynard Pennell, Jack Steiner, Joe Sutter and John Roundhill - all UW alumni - were among the chief designers of Boeing jet planes that revolutionized air travel.
  • The process that brought us color television - three beams of electrons (one for each primary color) fired on a screen of small, inverted pyramids, was invented by Willard Geer,a 1927 Physics graduate of the UW.
  • A chemicial engineer at B.F. Goodrich, UW alumnus Waldo Semon converted polyvinyl chloride from a hard, unworkable substance into a pliable one-vinyl - that is used in hundreds of products (credit cards, wall coverings, food wrap, plastic bottles, records, garden hoses, etc.).
  • Victor Mills, a 1926 UW grad, was a chemical engineer working for Proctor & Gamble. He was given a challenge when the consumer products giant purchases a pulp mill and told him to see what he could make of it. He invented the disposable diaper, a revolutionary development that today is a multi-billion dollar industry.

To learn more about the University of Washington's 150th Anniversary celebration, please click here.

Read or Share this story: