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Two U.Va. Faculty Members Named National Academy of Inventors Fellows

Thursday, December 18, 2014  
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Two faculty members are the first from the University of Virginia to be named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), an accolade created in 2010 to recognize those who invent or facilitate significant patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Thomas C. Skalak, U.Va.’s vice president for research and a professor of biomedical engineering, and John C. Herr, a professor of cell biology, biomedical engineering, urology and obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine, joined 168 other distinguished inventors from prominent research institutions of higher education, governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations in the 2014 class of NAI Fellows. They bring the total number to 414 – among them, 16 who have received the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 10 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science and 21 Nobel laureates.

“It is a great honor to be inducted as a fellow of NAI,” Skalak said. “NAI fellows have been the foundation of our nation’s innovation enterprise through their creativity in moving new knowledge to societal benefit, in the form of inventions that meet real needs for all of us. Winning the future of America depends on our collective ability to create truly new value through inventiveness.”

According to NAI, the accolade is a “high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.” Fellows are nominated by colleagues and must meet strict eligibility criteria. The names and institutions of all NAI Fellows are on permanent display at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“Recognition as an NAI fellow stems from collaborative efforts over many years with teams of enquiring and dedicated individuals who worked with me to discover previously unknown genes and proteins involved in reproduction, particularly fertilization,” Herr said. “The NAI recognition is also founded on diligent efforts of senior managers in U.Va. spin-out ventures whose work ensured that U.Va. ideas and discoveries achieved capitalization, FDA clearance, entered into the marketplace and became commercial successes.”

NAI fellows will receive a trophy and a rosette pin in honor of the accomplishments and will be officially inducted into the academy March 20 during the academy’s annual conference at the California Institute of Technology.

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