“I absolutely was surprised,” said Edwards, who didn’t know he had been nominated for the award that the Richmond Joint Engineers’ Council will present to him Thursday evening at a banquet at The Jefferson Hotel.
The recognition comes for an automated epinephrine injector invented by Edwards and his brother, Eric. The Edwards brothers and other family members took that idea and went on to found Intelliject, a Richmond based pharmaceutical firm.
Intelliject closed a $25 million licensing deal late last year with drug maker Sanofi-aventis to bring the injector to market. The company of about 25 employees is located in the First Market Bank building in Shockoe Slip.
As surprised as Edwards was about the award, the man who nominated him was not.
“It’s a game-changing device in health care,” said Dave Lohr, executive director of the Virginia Biosciences Center. “It’s a doggone good thing to recognize the young engineers who are being successful.”
Lohr worked closely with Edwards when the company started up as an incubator company in 2004 at the Biosciences Center. Lohr assisted the company in devising strategy and a financial plan and identifying lawyers and other service partners to help set up patents and protect intellectual property.
Lohr said he nominated Evan Edwards because he is an engineer with a degree from the University of Virginia. His brother Eric is in the process of becoming a medical doctor through Virginia Commonwealth University.
Jim Watson, the chairman of the Richmond Joint Engineers’ Council, issued this statement about the award:
“Although design of public and private infrastructure projects still is a major and important component of the work engineers do to promote a better quality of life, the award to Mr. Edwards not only recognizes his significant achievements but also recognizes the efforts of many engineers who often transcend engineering fields.”
The Edwardses grew up in Chesterfield County and attended high school at Monacan. They will turn 30 on Monday, Evan Edwards said.
Asked whether it felt awkward not to have his brother share in the award, Edwards said, “Yeah, we’ve always been paired as identical twins in everything we did. If there was an award for scientist of the year, he would get it in my eyes.”
Evan said his brother came up with the idea for the mechanical voice in the injector system they created. Both Evan and Eric have anaphylaxis – severe allergic reactions to insect bites and certain foods.
They were looking for a better emergency injection device than the bulky kind they had to use when they were younger. What they came up with was an epinephrine injector that is about the size of a credit card that has a voice chip that gives directions on how to deliver the shot.
“We’re really active in fulfilling our obligations to approval,” Edwards said. “I don’t think we’ll totally feel like it’s a success until then.”