No. 474: On molecular diagnostics, robo-busts and T Rex – and happy birthday to the author of your youth

Great heights: Arguably the greatest president (and indisputably the tallest, standing 6'4"), Abraham Lincoln was born 211 years ago today.


Back stretch: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, and the clubhouse turn of our latest socioeconomic sprint.

Have you seen me: National Lost Penny Day … on Lincoln’s birthday? Makes cents.

It’s Feb. 12 out there, replete with offbeat observations: choose from National Lost Penny Day, National Plum Pudding Day and Valentine’s Hug Day, a cuddly precursor to the big lovers’ day.

They do: Speaking of lovers, it’s also a notable date for same-sex unions – National Freedom to Marry Day, which was actually started by a law firm but earns a shoutout here.

Georgia on our mind: To our many readers in The Peach State, a joyous Georgia Day, recalling the Feb. 12, 1733, establishment of the then-Colonial province.

Sparta something big: Happy anniversary also to Michigan State University, home of the mighty Spartans, founded on this date in 1855.

Face it: Turning to sports innovations, to the delight of receivers and the chagrin of dentists, the catcher’s mask was patented by inventor Frederick Thayer on Feb. 12, 1878.

And it was this date in 1879 when North America’s first artificial ice-skating rink opened inside Madison Square Garden.

But who’s counting: Thomas Edison racked up nine total patents on Feb. 12 – four in 1884, two in 1889 and three in 1895, including his incandescent electric lamp.

Other notable innovators earning patent protections on this date include automotive and electronics icon James Packard, who landed the very first of his 43 patents – this covering an “Igniting Device for Hydrocarbon Engines” – on Feb. 12, 1901.

Use it or lose it: Fiji was the first nation to ratify the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

A change is gonna come: And it was this date in 2016 when Fiji became the first nation to ratify the Paris Agreement, an environmental accord under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

One-hundred-ninety-four other countries – including the United States, albeit temporarily – would follow.

Honestly: Happy birthday, Abe – an imperfect man with an unerring sense of justice, a leader during a time of unparalleled crisis and an enduring tribute to the solemn weight and responsibility of the U.S. presidency, Abraham Lincoln would be 211 years old today.

Also born on Feb. 12 were the king of origin stories, English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882); American paleontologist Barnum Brown (1873-1963), who discovered the first Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils and evidence of many other dinosaur species; American physicist and Nobel laureate Julian Schwinger (1918-1994), who helped square quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of relativity; and Swedish actress Maud Adams (born 1945), still the only performer to play two different “Bond girls” in the long-running spy series.

It’s me, Judy: Blume has beaten back critics with numerous awards and 82 million copies sold.

Full Blume: And take a bow, Judy Blume – the beloved (and sometimes controversial) author of honest, timeless and influential adolescent fiction turns 82 today.

Give your first favorite writer, your father’s 1974 fantasy woman and all the other Feb. 12 innovators your best at – give us the story tips and calendar items, please and thank you.


About our sponsor: Farrell Fritz, a full-service law firm with 15 practice groups, advises startups on entity formation, founder and shareholder agreements, funding, executive compensation and benefits, licensing and technology transfer, mergers and acquisitions and other strategic transactions. The firm’s blog, New York Venture Hub, discusses legal and business issues facing entrepreneurs and investors.



Park place: Albany’s investments in New York’s state parks appear to be paying off, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo trumpeting a banner year in 2019 for statewide park attendance – including turnout at several recently refurbished Long Island sites.

New York’s state parks, historic sites, campgrounds and officially sanctioned hiking trails welcomed a record-breaking 77.1 million visitors in 2019, an estimated 4 percent increase (nearly 3 million visitors) from 2018 numbers, according to the governor’s office, which also counts a roughly 33 percent jump (about 19 million annual visits) since Cuomo took office in 2011.

Cuomo credited efforts like the $90 million NY Parks 2020 plan, which has brought facility upgrades to Bethpage State Park (where annual attendance grew by 18 percent in 2019), Sunken Meadow State Park (annual attendance up 13 percent) and a host of other state properties on and off Long Island. “The NY Parks 2020 initiative has revitalized our state parks and historic sites,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “Tourism is booming in New York and these beautiful sites are drawing visitors to all corners of the state.”

Jeff Boyd: Molecule man.

Atta Boyd: A renowned expert in cancer genetics and clinical molecular diagnostics has joined the Northwell Health Cancer Institute.

Boasting three decades-plus of cancer-research experience, Jeff Boyd has been named vice president and chief scientific officer of the Cancer Institute and director of its Center for Genomic Medicine. Boyd, who most recently served as associate deputy director of the Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida, also will become a professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and member of the CSHL Cancer Center.

His primary function at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute will be heading up a new, state-of-the-art Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory – the perfect challenge for the veteran researcher, according to Northwell Health Senior VP and Cancer Institute Director Richard Barakat. “Genomics has become an important piece to helping us understand the genetic roots of the various forms of cancer,” Barakat said Tuesday. “We are extremely fortunate to have … an internationally known genomics expert such as Dr. Boyd join the Cancer Institute’s leadership team.”



Made for walking: And that’s just what this multifaceted boot camp will do, not only teaching learners to code but putting them on the “path” to 21st century employment.

Robo cop: If Long Island-based autodialer assassin Nomorobo was any closer to a new federal crackdown on illegal robocalls, it would need a badge.

Growing Hain: “Discontinued operations” are still a drag, but the bottom line is slowly brightening for Lake Success-based global distributor Hain Celestial.



Going to extremes: Students on the “educational extremes” – special-ed students needing the most help, high-achieving aces needing more challenges – have it roughest in distant rural districts. Voices columnist and K-12 education ace Harry Aurora wants to bring the solution to them.



Start your engines: Forbes takes a spin on the future of automotive innovation.

Water works: Engadget dives into rainwater as a renewable energy source.

Weather (or not): Popular Mechanics reviews 150 years of forecasting innovations.



+ Outset Medical, a California-based medtech developing innovative hemodialysis systems, raised $125 million in Series E equity financing led by D1 Capital Partners, with participation from Fidelity Management and Research Company, Partner Fund Management, Perceptive Advisor and funds advised by T. Rowe Price Associates.

+ Accion Systems, a Massachusetts-based  in-space propulsion system provider, raised $11 million in Series B funding co-led by Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Shasta Ventures.

+ Sonoma Biotherapeutics, a California- and Washington State-based company developing regulatory T cell therapies for autoimmune and degenerative diseases, raised $40 million in Series A financing. Backers included Lyell Immunopharma, ARCH Venture Partners, Milky Way Ventures and 8VC.

+ Houwzer, a Pennsylvania-based real estate brokerage, raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Edison Partners, with participation from Admiral Capital Group and real estate investor Ira Lubert, and new investors GO Philly Fund and Chestnut Street Ventures.

+ Lumos Diagnostics, a Florida-based healthcare company providing complete point-of-care diagnostic test solutions, closed a $15 million Series A funding round. Australian commercialization company Planet Innovation made the investment.

+ Suzy, a New York City-based consumer-insight platform, closed a $12 million Series C funding round led by Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, with participation from Foundry Group and Triangle Peak Partners, and existing investors Tribeca Venture Partners and 35 Ventures.



Rocks solid: Behold, the new whiskey rebellion.

Eat: The Mars menu may convince astronauts to stay home.

Drink: What whiskey can teach us about innovation.

Be merry: Does innovation create happiness, or vice versa? You decide.

For tomorrow we fly: With the help of the Regulatory & Government Relations Practice Group and all the other topflight resources waiting at Farrell Fritz, one of the amazing firms that support Innovate LI. Check them out.