Two COE faculty chosen for National Academy of Inventors

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Two College of Engineering faculty, UF Vice President of Research and MSE professor David Norton and Rolf E. Hummel professor of electronic materials and MSE associate chair of research Franky So, were chosen as Charter Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Four researchers at the University of Florida have been chosen as Charter Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

Donn Dennis, Ray Bergeron, Franky So and Nan Yao-Su will be recognized as four of 98 people selected from universities and nonprofit institutions nationally. Vice President for Research David P. Norton also was named a Charter Fellow.

The 98 innovators represent 54 research universities and nonprofit research institutes. Together, the new fellows hold more than 3,200 U.S. patents. The academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Charter Fellow are named inventors on U.S. patents and were nominated for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.

Included in the Charter class are eight Nobel Laureates, two Fellows of the Royal Society, 12 presidents of research universities and nonprofit research institutes, 50 members of the National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine), 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 American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows, among other major awards and distinctions.

Dr. Donn Dennis is a professor in the departments of anesthesiology, psychiatry, and pharmacology & experimental therapeutics at UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center. He currently sits in the Joachim S. Gravenstein, M.D., endowed chair in anesthesiology. Dennis also serves as chief science officer of Xhale Inc., a company he co-founded in late 2005.

His career has focused on developing innovations in patient-centric medicine, particularly technologies to improve the safety and efficacy of drugs and reduce the incidence of adverse events in medical settings to improve clinical outcomes while reducing health care costs. He is an inventor on 62 United States and foreign equivalent patents. The intellectual property outlined in these patents focuses on three areas: nanotechnology-based strategies to optimize drug delivery, make drugs more dissolvable and treat drug toxicity; technologies to reduce healthcare-associated infections; and technologies to streamline the execution of clinical trials and optimize drug therapy in the setting of disease management.

Raymond J. Bergeron is a distinguished professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry and was a Duckworth eminent scholar of drug development at the UF College of Pharmacy. He has published 200 papers, authored a text on bioorganic chemistry, edited two books on iron overload diseases and holds 200 patents. His research interests include cancer chemotherapy, the role of metals in diseases and metal chelators. Bergeron has dedicated his career to drug discovery and development surrounding cancer and iron overload diseases affecting children, namely thalassemia and sickle cell disease. Bergeron has taken five drugs to clinical trials. Most recently, his efforts have led to a promising treatment for children with iron overload. This drug is now in phase 2 human clinical trials. He also has discovered a new therapeutic for pancreatic cancer, for which there is virtually no effective cure. It is anticipated that human trials will be launched within a year and a half.

Franky So is the Rolf E. Hummel professor of electronic materials and associate chair of research in the department of materials science and engineering. His research focuses on flexible optoelectronic devices based on organic and nanocrystal materials. These devices include: organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs, for smart phone displays and flat screen TVs and high efficiency, high quality solid state lighting devices that will replace light bulbs one day; low-cost, high efficiency flexible polymer solar cells that can be printed by roll-to-roll process; and low-cost nanocrystal devices for UV and infrared sensors. He is an inventor of more than 70 issued patents and has another 20 pending patents.

Nan-Yao Su is a professor emeritus of entomology at the UF Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

His research into how termites search for and locate food sources in soil led to the development of the first commercial termite bait products in the United States. Su has published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has served as an international expert in integrated pest management for the United Nations Environmental Program and for governmental agencies in New Zealand, Chile and China. He has contributed chapters to 15 books and is the co-editor of “Biology and Control of the Formosan Subterranean Termite.”

The NAI Charter Fellows will be inducted as Fellows by the U.S. Commissioner for Patents, Margaret A. Focarino, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, Feb. 22 during the National Academy of Inventors’ annual conference in Tampa.

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