This case study was adapted from a feature in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Journeys of Innovation series. Read the full spotlight here.
Arlyne Simon, Ph.D., biomedical engineer, patent and copyright holder, author and innovation advocate.
Dr. Simon has developed several innovations, including a blood test that detects when cancer patients are rejecting a bone marrow transplant to provide better treatment. She has also worked on a startup in the diagnostic testing space, and currently helps design medical imaging equipment, among other innovative accomplishments. One area that she is trying to address outside of her “day job” is encouraging youth—and particularly young girls—to pursue innovative fields, like science and technology. In the United States women make up nearly half of the workforce, but only 27% of STEM workers. Dr. Simon, herself having been the only woman in the lab while pursuing her Ph.D., wondered, “what can I do to increase the number of girls who have a desire to pursue STEM?”
Dr. Simon found the answer to her question by becoming a mentor and author. In addition to her role as a youth ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she writes a children’s book series Abby Invents. In each book, Abby pursues an invention, such as unbreakable crayons or a laundry-folding machine, and ultimately applies for and receives a patent. Similar to the real world, the young girl faces the need for collaboration, the potential for failure and the need to persevere to turn an idea into an invention. The book aims to instill a love of innovation, curiosity and creativity, while underscoring the importance of intellectual property to protect the work involved in bringing concepts to life.
Through Dr. Simon’s stories, the concept of a patent is understandable for young children, and the entire invention process becomes exciting and—in her words—“magical” to inspire a new generation of innovators. She made sure to include intellectual property as part of the story, as she has experienced firsthand how valuable it has been in her career achievements, such as through the copyrights of her Abby Invents series. In leading by example and developing tools to empower future inventors, Dr. Simon showcases the power of innovation—today and to come.
“Inventing is magical…you identify a problem, you brainstorm, and then you come up with a technology that doesn't exist before.” – Arlyne Simon, Ph.D.