Engineering Professor Thomas Milner was recently named UT Austin's Inventor of the Year. Milner, a professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department was named Inventor of the Year at the university’s annual Inventor Award Ceremony in late November. Milner pioneered the development of optical-based instrumentation applications that help physicians and patients in clinical settings.
“The Inventor of the Year is chosen on the basis of the significance and novelty of a scientific discovery coupled with the commercial potential of the discovery,” said Dan Sharp, associate vice president of research and director of the Office of Technology Commercialization  at UT Austin, which organized the event to recognize the university’s researchers and inventors and the work they perform in their labs.
Milner has developed a technology known as optical coherence tomography, which uses a fiber-optic interferometer in combination with a broadband light source to detect subsurface static and moving constituents in tissue such as red blood cells.
He took his research beyond the laboratory in co-founding CardioSpectra Inc., a San Antonio-based company that was sold to the Volcano Corporation. The multimillion-dollar transaction has been named one of the greatest return-on-investments for Texas’ Emerging Technology Fund and has contributed significantly to San Antonio’s flourishing biotechnology sector. Milner’s inventions have been widely used during the past decade in clinical laser treatment systems offered globally by Candela Laser Corporation.