Only 98 Academic Innovators Elected to High Honor
By Mark Dwortzan
The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has elected Professors James Collins (BME, MSE, SE), Mark Grinstaff (BME, MSE) and Theodore Moustakas (ECE, MSE) as Charter Fellows, a high professional distinction that recognizes academic innovators who have created or facilitated outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on society—and have been a named inventor on at least one patent issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
They are among 98 innovators to receive this honor, representing 54 prestigious research universities and non-profit research institutes and more than 3,200 U.S. patents. The new Fellows include eight Nobel Laureates, two Fellows of the Royal Society, 12 presidents of research universities and non-profit research institutes, 50 members of the National Academies, 11 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, three recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, four recipients of the National Medal of Science, and 29 AAAS Fellows.
Collins, Grinstaff and Moustakas were recognized for research that has resulted in several high-impact inventions.
A pioneer in both synthetic and systems biology, Collins has developed innovative ways to design and reprogram gene networks within bacteria and other organisms to attack tumors, direct stem cell development and perform other desired tasks that could bring about cheaper drugs, more effective treatments of antibiotic-resistant infections, and clean energy solutions. Also a trailblazer in efforts to improve function of physiological and biological systems, he has spearheaded several new medical devices such as vibrating insoles to improve balance in elderly people and a device to treat stroke-induced brain failure.
Grinstaff has pursued highly interdisciplinary research in biomedical engineering and chemistry, aimed at elucidating underlying fundamental chemistry and engineering principles and applying them to develop new materials and devices for clinical applications. His recent inventions include a unique material and drug delivery mechanism that could pave the way for implants that release a drug at a designated rate for months; and a new drug delivery device for the prevention of lung tumor recurrence after surgical resection.
Moustakas has pioneered the nucleation steps for the growth of gallium nitride on sapphire and other substrates, an essential process for the manufacture of blue LEDs, which are widely used in solid state lighting applications; and developed highly-efficient, deep ultraviolet (UV) LEDs, which are expected to provide environmentally friendly water and air purification.
The three College of Engineering faculty members will be inducted as Fellows by the U.S. Commissioner for Patents, Margaret A. Focarino, during the 2nd Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, on Feb. 22, 2013, in Tampa, Florida, where they will receive a trophy and rosette pin. NAI Fellows will also be recognized with a full page announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Jan. 18, 2013, in the Jan. 2013 issue of Inventors Digest, and in a future issue of Technology and Innovation – Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors.
The NAI Fellows Selection Committee was comprised of recipients of National Medals, a National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee, 14 members from the National Academies, senior officials from the USPTO, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) and the United Inventors Association, and leaders from several research universities.
The mission of the NAI is to honor academic invention; recognize and encourage inventors; enhance the visibility of university and non-profit research institute technology and innovation; encourage the disclosure of intellectual property; educate and mentor innovative students; and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.
Barbara Gilchrest, professor and chair-emeritus of the Department of Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, was also elected as an NAI Charter Fellow