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National Academy of Inventors and Emory announce NAI Charter Fellows

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Holly Korschun

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has named James W. Wagner, PhD, president of Emory University, and Raymond F. Schinazi, PhD, Frances Winship Walters Professor of Pediatrics at Emory and director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology, as Charter Fellows.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a highly 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.

The 98 innovators elected to NAI Fellow status represent 54 universities and non-profit research institutes. Together, they hold more than 3,200 U.S. patents.

Included in the Charter class are:

  • 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 (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, 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 AAAS Fellows, among other awards and distinctions. 

James Wagner, an award-winning teacher and scientist, became the 19th president of Emory University in 2003. He has led Emory’s emergence as a top research university, especially in the area of health sciences, attracting and producing some of the world’s finest health sciences leaders. He also has worked to develop and strengthen productive relationships between the liberal arts and the health sciences.

Throughout his administrative career, Wagner has worked closely with faculty, students, alumni and staff to enhance the undergraduate educational experience, grow research, and foster more effective partnerships between the academy and local institutions, including government and industry. 

Biomedical research at Emory is supported by substantial and sustained funding by federal agencies, industry partnerships and philanthropic support. For the past three years Emory scientists have received more than $500 million in external research funding, including nearly $300 million from the National Institutes of Health.

Emory has been a leader in transfer of research discoveries into licensed technologies and startup companies, contributing to Georgia’s life sciences industry and resulting in the development of life-saving medicines and medical devices.

Through its Office of Technology Transfer, Emory currently manages more than 1,000 technologies invented by its scientists and physicians. Its robust product pipeline has led to the formation of 57 new companies and more than 50 new products in various stages of regulatory approval, with 27 having reached the marketplace and 12 more in human clinical trials.

In a 2011 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Emory was cited as the nation's fourth leading contributor to drug discovery among U.S. public-sector institutions, based in part on lifesaving HIV/AIDS drugs used by 94 percent of U.S. patients on therapy and by thousands more globally. Licensing revenues from drugs, diagnostics, devices and consumer products have totaled more than $806 million, used to subsidize additional research and scientific education at Emory.

In 2009 Wagner was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as vice-chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. He serves on the boards of The Carter Center, the Georgia Research Alliance, SunTrust Banks, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Wagner continues to lead Emory’s emergence as a global leader in biotechnology partnerships. He and university and industry colleagues in Queensland, Australia, recently signed an alliance to collaborate on development and commercialization of drugs and vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer.

Before joining Emory, Wagner served as dean, provost and interim president of Case Western Reserve University and as a faculty member at The Johns Hopkins University in materials science and biomedical engineering. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1975 from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in clinical engineering in 1978 from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a PhD in materials science and engineering from Johns Hopkins in 1984.

His research interests and activities have stemmed in part from his early employment as an electronics engineer in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, where he developed quality-assurance methods and performed failure analyses on medical devices. At Johns Hopkins, his research focused on optical and microwave methods for sensing strains and displacements in materials and structures.

In 2007, Dr. Wagner received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering and the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association. In the spring of 2009, he was elected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctor of engineering degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Raymond Schinazi is Frances Winship Walters Professor of Pediatrics at Emory and director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology. His is a senior research career scientist at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Director of the Scientific Working Group on Viral Eradication for the Emory University Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). He is also an adjunct professor of chemistry at Georgia State University and serves as an advisor for the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases at the University of Miami.

Schinazi received his BSc (1972) and PhD (1976) in chemistry from the University of Bath, England and completed post-doctoral training in pharmacology at Yale University and in virology/immunology at Emory University. In 2006, he received an honorary DSc from the University of Bath for his research accomplishments in the field of HIV and biotechnology.

A world leader in the area of nucleoside chemistry, Schinazi is the founder of five biotechnology companies focusing on antiviral drug discovery and development: RFS Pharma, LLC (formed in 2004); ActivBiotics, LLC (formed in 2008); Pharmasset Inc. (acquired by Gilead in 2012), Triangle Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Gilead in 2003), Idenix Pharmaceuticals (51 percent acquired by Novartis in 2003).

Schinazi holds 92 issued U.S. patents, 45 published U.S. applications, 39 PCT International applications, and 121 non-U.S. national stage patents and patent applications. These patents have resulted in 11 New Drug Applications (NDA), including his best known work on d4T (stavudine), 3TC (lamivudine), FTC (emtricitabine/Emtriva), and LdT (telbivudine), as well as drug combinations including Truvada, Atripla, Complera, and Striblid (Gilead), Combivir, Trizivir, and Epzicom (GSK). More than 94 percent of HIV-infected individuals take at least one of the drugs he invented.

Schinazi has served on the editorial board of peer-reviewed journals including Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Antiviral Research, AIDS Reviews, Antiviral Chemistry and Chemotherapy, Global Antiviral Journal, Antiviral Therapy, HIV/AIDS - Research and Palliative Care, and Open Access Journal of Hepatology. He has authored 478 published, peer-reviewed articles, 57 book chapters and seven books.

He is founder of the highly successful HIV-DART, HEP-DART and Bridging the Sciences conferences. He served on the Presidential Commission on AIDS and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Georgia Biomedical Industry Growth Award, the 2006 Distinguished Scientist Award from the Hepatitis B Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Top Innovators in America Award, and two Merit Awards (10-year grants) from NIH-NIAID. He currently serves as a Governing Trustee for the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and as a Board member for the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC). He was inducted into the Technology Hall of Fame of Georgia in March 2012, and he received the Intellectual Property Legends Award in October 2012.

NAI Charter Fellows

The NAI Charter Fellows will be inducted by the U.S. Commissioner for Patents, Margaret A. Focarino, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, during the 2nd Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, on Feb. 22, 2013, in Tampa, Fla., at the Embassy Suites Hotel in the University of South Florida Research Park. Fellows will be presented with a special trophy and a rosette pin.

Academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Charter Fellow were nominated by their peers 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.

The NAI Fellows Selection Committee is comprised of 14 members from the National Academies, recipients of National Medals, a National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee, and senior officials from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), the United Inventors Association and University Research Leadership.

The NAI Charter Fellows will be recognized in a full-page advertisement 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.

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