TAMPA, Fla. (March 30, 2020) - University of South Florida alum Israel Morejon, a pioneer in modern wireless technology, and Dr. Jean-François Rossignol, a global infectious disease expert who to this day conducting research to combat coronaviruses, are among the 2020 class of eight distinguished innovators to be inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.
“The 2020 class of Florida Inventors Hall of Fame inductees represent an extraordinary breadth and depth of inventions that have shaped modern life as we know it. It is particularly heartening and inspiring that these immensely talented inventors not only have led distinguished, productive and heralded careers, but many of them continue to develop new inventions that advance the health, safety and welfare of people around the world.” - Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, chair of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Advisory Board and USF's Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation & Knowledge Enterprise.
Israel Morejon, a 1988 graduate of USF's College of Engineering.
Morejon has had a distinguished career in creating a diverse array of technologies in the consumer, medical, industrial, military and research and development fields. He is the president of Integrated Engineering Technology in Tampa and is a prolific inventor of state-of-the-art LED lighting technologies, nanotechnlogy and wireless modem technology that has been applicable in wide variety of industries. He holds 27 U.S. patents and is an National Academy of Inventors Fellow and serves on the USF Research Foundation Board. He graduated from USF with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1988.
Morejon was the founder, CEO and president of LEDnovation, a pioneering company in solid state lighting. Prior, he was the Chief Technology Director at Jabil Circuit where he grew an engineering design services organization globally and designed diverse products in multiple technology areas. He began his career at Hercules Aerospace designing missile guidance and control systems.
He has designed digital video encoding algorithms, video compression designs, solid state lighting products, dimming controllers, electric vehicle motor drivers, hearing aids, kidney dialysis solutions, acute care patient monitoring products, multiple robots, sensor solutions for a variety of products, and the core waveguide technology for many RF products. In 2019, he was selected for the College of Engineering's Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.
Dr. Jean-François Rossignol.
Dr. Rossignol is the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Romark Pharmaceuticals in Tampa and holds a courtesy faculty appointment in the Department of Medicine and Infectious Disease at USF's Morsani College of Medicine. He holds 41 U.S. patents.
His work on developing a coronavirus treatment has been part of his efforts to develop broad-spectrum, antiviral medicines. His work on coronaviruses dates back to 1974, when he discovered thiazolides – a new class of antiviral drugs – and in recent years he has conducted extensive studies of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
With a more than 50-year career in drug development that has taken him from working on anti-malarial efforts in West Africa and South America, as well as creating break-through treatments for viral diseases such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C, Dr. Rossignol’s work during the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic has focused on developing a prophylactic to coronavirus infections.
Dr. Rossignol holds a PhD in medicinal chemistry and a medical degree from the University of Paris in France. He also has conducted extensive research in intestinal parasitic infections, malaria, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), pandemic influenza and cancer, among other diseases. He has led the development of treatments such as albendazole and halofantrine, which are listed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.
The 2020 Class of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame also includes:
Dr. Christopher Batich: Professor at the University of Florida Department of Materials Science and Engineering and inventor of a groundbreaking anti-bacterial surface treatment material, commercialized as Bioguard®, being used as an advanced wound dressing and bacterial barrier in burn units and nursing homes throughout the United States. He holds 55 U.S. patents and is an AIMBE Fellow.
Dr. Nicholas Bodor: Founder and CEO of Bodor Laboratories in Miami and Graduate Research Professor Emeritus (active) at the University of Florida who invented a retrometabolic drug development concept that has improved the ratio of therapeutic effect vs. toxicity of medication and created various drugs to treat inflammation, ophthalmic conditions, and Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. He holds over 160 U.S. patents and is an AAAS Fellow.
Harvey Firestone: Innovative businessman and founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company was a pioneer in the rubber industry, and alongside Ford and Edison, he did much to advance scientific research in Florida and co-founded the Edison Botanic Research Corporation to develop a domestic source of natural rubber that led to major botanical and chemical advancements. He holds four U.S. patents.
Dr. Les Kramer: Vice President of Engineering and Manufacturing at TaiLor Made Prosthetics in Orlando and board member of the University of Central Florida’s College of Sciences and Nanoscience Center who created a remarkably advanced carbon fiber composite prosthetic foot that has improved the lives of many amputees and, while at Lockheed Martin, co-invented improvised explosive device detection technology for the military. He holds 17 U.S. patents.
Dr. Joshua Rokach: Professor and former Director of the Claude Pepper Institute for Aging and Therapeutic Research at Florida Institute of Technology whose research created the first synthesis of major treatments for asthma, nose allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease, which led to the development and commercialization of Singulair and Flexeril. He holds 63 U.S. patents and is an NAI Fellow.
Dr. Christine Schmidt: Professor and Chair of the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Florida known for her prominent contributions to biomaterials science and tissue engineering who created Avance® Nerve Graft that has improved the lives of numerous patients suffering from peripheral nerve damage. She holds 19 U.S. patents and is an AAAS, AIMBE, and NAI Fellow.
Nominees to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame must have at least one U.S. patent and a connection to Florida. They were nominated through an open process and elected by a selection committee comprising distinguished leaders in research and innovation throughout Florida. They will be formally inducted during a gala ceremony in September in Tampa.
The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame was recognized by the Florida Senate in 2014 with a resolution sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes that commended the Hall of Fame, “for its commitment to honoring inventors and celebrating innovation, discovery, and excellence.” The Hall of Fame is located at the USF Research Park and supported, in part, by the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.