The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members, Fellows and Senior Members spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. The NAI works collaboratively with the USPTO and publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation and the annual Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents report. www.academyofinventors.org.

Board of Directors & Officers

A Message From Our President

Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., FNAI, President

Please Welcome Our New Board Members!

The Academy is pleased to welcome Dr. Cato Laurencin M.D., Ph.D. and Pierre Comizzoli Ph.D., D.V.M. to the Academy’s Board of Directors.

In the coming year, NAI will continue to explore additional ways to build on its longstanding and robust partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in support of the promotion and recognition of innovation in America.

In this video from Laura Peter, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, we hear more about the existing and future collaborations between the NAI and the USPTO.

This spring, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we were overwhelmed by the response from NAI Members “coming together” remotely to help in the fight against COVID-19. Both individual and institutional NAI members leaned into their unique areas of expertise and brought forth solutions to help prevent, diagnose, and treat COVID-19. It was discovery in action and real-time. We applaud your efforts and thank you for your noble work.

There were so many heroic stories that we couldn’t possibly share them all, but here are a few that truly embody the spirit of academic invention for the betterment of society over self.

Lehigh University

Created a device for sterilization and reuse of N95 masks for front-line healthcare workers in areas with PPE shortages.

University of California, Santa Barbara

Developed a faster, less expensive COVID-19 test for deployment in the field.

Medical University of South Carolina

Produced a 15-video suite of COVID-19 related protocols including intubation and PPE safety measures.

Binghamton University (State University of New York)

Shared how one of their engineering students built a ventilator in his dorm room with Walmart parts.

University of South Florida

Created the Pandemic Response Research Network which kicked into action to fast-track COVID-19 solutions.

“New Normal” Inspires New Opportunities

As the world went virtual this spring due to the pandemic, the Academy created the “ScholarShare” webinar series to provide a platform for innovative collaboration and sharing.

After the overwhelming response of the webinars, we had an "eureka moment" and shifted the focus of our programming to better meet the practical needs of academic inventors.

We are now pleased to present our Member 'toolbox' suite of new and enhanced programs developed just for you. Read on for details!

New from NAI:

ScholarShare Webinars


What started as an alternate platform for our Annual Meeting quickly morphed into a popular tool for our Members to collaborate and learn from each other, share their research, or discuss an aspect of the inventor ecosystem they felt passionate about.

The Academy has hosted eleven webinars to date, with over 250 participants, and has more webinars coming! All NAI ScholarShare sessions are recorded and posted on the NAI YouTube channel, where they have reached an even wider global audience.

Watch for upcoming webinars and check out any you may have missed on our YouTube channel.

Contact the Academy to schedule your webinar!

New from NAI:

From Campus to Commerce


Video is king, or so they say, and NAI is using this engaging format to promote our Member discovery stories over social media.

The Academy has produced six episodes of the series so far, featuring discovery stories from Duke University, University of Georgia, University of Missouri, University of South Florida, and University of Utah.

Watch them now on our YouTube channel!

New from NAI:

IP Curriculum


In partnership with the Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, NAI will be developing an online intellectual property and entrepreneurship curriculum. Upon successful completion of the course, enrollees will receive an Innovation Development Certificate. The curriculum is being developed in cooperation with leading experts in the field of IP and accomplished inventors and entrepreneurs.

The certificate program will be available for students, staff and faculty members of our affiliated institutions. Not only valuable to course participants, the course credential also gives our Member Institutes the opportunity to use NAI's certificate program to supplement their own innovation portfolio. Watch for more on this soon!

Streamlined Submission Process!

Technology & Innovation


The T&I journal is the only multi-disciplinary journal dedicated EXCLUSIVELY to academic invention. Over the past year, NAI has released four new issues of our quarterly journal, Technology & Innovation (T&I). The journal addresses questions such as What We Might Do to Encourage More Women to Write Patents? It also explores topics ranging from strengthening academic-industry partnerships to addressing issues that may arise from asserting a software patent. In the most recent issue of T&I, NAI Founder Dr. Paul Sanberg teamed up with Dr. Karen Burg of the University of Georgia to revisit USF President Dr. Steven Currall’s book Organized Innovation: A Blueprint for Renewing America’s Prosperity, offering commentary on the many relevant lessons that it presents.

Read the latest issue

Get more information on submitting an article

Streamlined Functionality:



Mentoring a new inventor may be one of the most satisfying things you do.

As the Global Academic Inventors Network (GAIN) enters its third year of connecting academic inventors with collegiate innovators, NAI is working to improve the user experience and facilitate convenient mentor sessions.

Since its launch, this unique program has connected scores of students from our Member Institutions with some of the most brilliant minds and accomplished inventors in the world.

Our mentors—Academy Fellows, Senior Members and Faculty from affiliated institutions have given this unique opportunity to foster and encourage the next generation of inventors a hearty thumbs-up!

Our mentees—students, staff, and faculty members from NAI affiliated institutions have found the advice and guidance priceless for their research and professional development.

For more information on the Global Academic Inventors Network:

New from NAI:

NAI Space at USPTO Headquarters


In recognition of our long and valued partnership with the USPTO, the Academy has been given a prominent space in their Alexandria, Virginia headquarters to display NAI materials and Member inventions.

This space will include our logo, class plaques displaying each Fellow's name, and signage that will demonstrate the substantial contributions and impact of our Members. Additionally, NAI will have a display case containing actual Member inventions, which can be rotated throughout the year.

We are thrilled for this incredible opportunity to gain wide public exposure of the Academy as the site is visited by hundreds of thousands each year! We are truly grateful to the USPTO for making this happen.

New from NAI:

Commemorative Membership Seals


Just for our Members!

This year, the Academy has created a new, digital way for you to include your Academy credentials in your emails, documents, and publishings.

These commemorative seals were designed exclusively to represent each membership type, whether you're a Fellow or Senior Member.

They are available now to download from our website and use anytime. Get yours today!

Download Your Fellow Seal Now!

Download Your Senior Member Seal Now!

NAI Fellows & Senior Members

In our effort to establish an elite network of inventors and a community of innovation, the Academy has created a number of membership classifications to best address an individual’s career stage.

NAI Fellows are individuals whose patented innovations have made a longstanding, remarkable impact on society. They are often recognized as pioneers in their field and have reached professional maturity.

Senior Members are individuals affiliated with NAI Member Institutes whose patented innovations have great potential impact. Senior Members are typically active scientists who are recognized as rising leaders in their field.

This year’s Fellows and Senior Members will be inducted at the 10th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida in June 2021.

The NAI Fellows Program

The impact of NAI Fellows cannot be overstated. Since the first elected class in 2012, the number of Fellows has grown to 1,228 distinguished academic inventors, who are considered pioneers in their fields.

Their contributions are monumental to both society and the economy and have been recognized and honored by some of the most prestigious organizations within the innovation ecosystem.

In December 2019, 168 distinguished Fellows were elected to the Academy.

See the full 2019 class list of NAI Fellows here:

Learn more about the NAI Fellows program

The NAI Senior Member Program

The NAI Senior Member Program, introduced in 2018, offers Member Institutions the opportunity to recognize early-stage inventors who are rising stars and have produced technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society.

The Academy is honored to now include 188 individual Senior Members who are collectively named on over 2,600 patents.

See the August 2020 class of NAI Senior Members!

NAI Sustaining Membership is especially ideal for universities with large local NAI Chapters as this membership provides an unlimited number of chapter members. Sustaining Member Institutions also receive added benefits such as institutional recognition on the Academy’s website and promotional materials, premier VIP seating at the NAI Annual Meeting and the opportunity for a special feature in our Annual Activities Report.

NAI Sustaining Members:

  • Arizona State University
  • Auburn University
  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Louisiana State University
  • New York University
  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Central Florida
  • The University of Florida
  • University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • University of South Florida

Here are the latest highlights from NAI Sustaining Members!

Arizona State University


Though he’s no magician, Cody Friesen Ph.D., NAI Senior Member, is in the business of pulling things out of thin air. Specifically, drinking water.

An associate professor at Arizona State University (ASU), Friesen founded SOURCE Global, PBC in 2015 and has since endeavored to make drinking water an unlimited, easily accessible resource all over the world. Led by Friesen, the company is built upon special solar panels of his design, called SOURCE® Hydropanels. Hydropanels extract water from humidity in the air, and are currently at work in more than 40 countries spanning six continents. The technology can reliably deliver an average of 5 liters of water a day, whether arid deserts or rain-drenched tropical forests.

Sustaining Member:

Auburn University


John David “Dave” Irwin, the Earle C. Williams Eminent Scholar in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Auburn University, has a long history of work in teaching and research that blends industry and academe with strong bonds of commercial success and technological developments. Dr. Irwin holds six U.S. patents on technologies that he developed in the areas of cybersecurity and digital network communications systems, all of which have been licensed.

Sustaining Member:

The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Prof. LIU has pioneered a novel solution that gives robots “eyes” using what is known as vision-based 3D motion control. By programming a robot with that sort of vision, it can operate independently in a factory, warehouse and even the operating theatre, assisting surgeons.

Sustaining Member:

Louisiana State University


Today’s industry standard of whole genome analysis, used by many to track their ancestry, and in some cases genetic traits and predispositions, is based on the universal DNA array, invented by an LSU chemist and his colleagues at Weill Cornell Medicine and University of Minnesota in the 1990s.

Sustaining Member:

New York University


Vikram Kapila, Ph.D., is a Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the New York University (NYU) Tandon School of Engineering. His early research led to fundamental advances in control system technology, including actuator saturation control, spacecraft formation control, and remote control of lab testbeds. He envisions a future where robots readily and flexibly assimilate to support our health and wellness.

Sustaining Member:

Texas Tech University


While a Texas Tech University duo’s invention from two decades ago is being further developed for uses in new phones, watches and large screen displays around the world, a more recent invention could be used in both national security and in the detection of oil and gas far beneath Earth’s surface.

Sustaining Member:

University Of Central Florida


Dr. Richard Blair is a research professor in UCF’s Florida Space Institute where he investigates synthesis and characterization of heterogeneous catalysts with high activity due to the presence of defects; scalable production of high-performance materials and catalysts and more.

Sustaining Member:

University Of Florida


Professor Dobson’s UF spin-off company, 42Bio, was awarded a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to adapt his patented magnetic separation technology for isolation and purification of SARS-cov-2 antibodies for the treatment of COVID-19.

Sustaining Member:

University of South Florida


When University of South Florida Associate Professor Sylvia Thomas accepted the Educational Leadership Award at the 2020 Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference in February 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had not yet brought the world to a standstill. But in the ensuing months, Dr. Thomas’ research agenda and achievements have been anything but static.

Hear more on how Sustaining Membership can benefit your organization

NAI is proud to have 186 institutions of higher learning in our innovation network, representing 42 American states and 11 countries. Fifty of our Member Institutions also belong to the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization of American research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education. These world-class learning institutes are committed to facilitate discovery for societal progress and are invaluable as the world looks more and more toward academic discovery to solve our most pressing issues. Most notably, the Academy welcomed nine new Member Institutions into our community this year.

New 2019 Member Institutions:

Learn about the benefits of becoming an NAI Member Institute

Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is where healing, teaching and discovery come together. We're committed to advancing science in the lab, to translating our findings into the latest treatments for patients, and to training world-class providers.

RadTech International

RadTech International, located in Chevy Chase Maryland, is the nonprofit trade association for ultraviolet and electron beam technologies. They joined NAI as a way to network with the scientific community and to spotlight critical new technologies using UV+EB, including 3D printing/additive manufacturing, in such areas as medicine, electronics, and manufacturing.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the second largest university in the state, located in the heart of the Acadiana region. It is home to over 19,000 students, 1,900 staff, and 750 faculty members. As a High Research Activity (R2) Institution, the University expends over $144 million annually in research and development.

The University of Texas Health, San Antonio

In the past decade, UT Health San Antonio has amassed 476 invention disclosures, 102 patents and spun out 22 startups bolstered by momentum in our city and state to support innovation. We launched TechNovum™ in 2019, the first accelerator at UT Health San Antonio that is the centerpiece of our commitment to providing pathways for our researchers to commercialize their inventions.

NAI Chapters play an important role in our innovation ecosystem. In serving their respective university communities, chapters highlight the achievements of NAI Fellows and promote innovation through events, ceremonial inductions, activities, and more. The Academy’s Chapter network currently includes 48 official chapters which offer the unique benefit of local collaboration, support, and honor for individual inventors. The Chapters are also essential vehicles to nurture and engage students, as well as institutional and community leaders who facilitate innovation. We are pleased to recognize six new NAI Chapters established this year:

  1. Binghamton University
  2. North Dakota State University
  3. Oregon Health Science University
  4. University of Alaska – Fairbanks
  5. University of Idaho
  6. RadTech International

News from NAI’s Chapters

Arizona State University


Member Recognition & Awards

Dr. C. Austen Angell was awarded the 2019 Lise Meitner Award for his breakthrough discovery in physics.

Dr. Cody Friesen was awarded the 2019 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, which honors outstanding inventors who translate their ideas into technological inventions that have been adopted and bring significant value to society.

Dr. Michael Kozicki has been awarded the 2019-2020 Joseph C. Palais Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award for his excellence in research, teaching and community service.

Dr. Neal Woodbury was recently named the chief executive officer of Science Foundation Arizona (SFAZ).

Read about ASU's Efforts Against COVID-19

University of Missouri


We were delighted to be the inaugural institution featured in NAI's From Campus to Commerce video series, showcasing the discovery of the market-hit Beyond Meat.

The video was unveiled at Beyond Innovation, an annual faculty recognition event, highlighting faculty with new patents, licensed technologies and startups, hosted by MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright, NAI Fellow, and Vice Chancellor for Research and Mark A. McIntosh. NAI chose MU to host the kickoff on its main campus due to the university’s past successes in supporting early-stage innovations. Additionally, we were honored to have NAI Board Member and Fellow, Robert Duncan, Ph.D. join the event.

We also partnered with NAI to produce a second From Campus to Commerce video featuring Dr. Kattesh Katti whose discovery story will be debuting this fall.

Current Chapter Members

Senior Members

More News from NAI Chapters:

University of Southern California


Each spring for the past several years the USC Stevens Center for Innovation has hosted a special reception to celebrate inventors at the University of Southern California. Researchers whose technology was licensed for the first time during the previous calendar year receive an award that recognizes their achievement.

In addition, researchers who were named on a U.S. Patent issued during the previous calendar year are inducted into the USC Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors. The USC Chapter of the NAI was launched in 2017 and, with more than 300 members, is now one of the largest in the United States.

In July 2020 the USC Stevens Center for Innovation and the USC Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors launched the webinar series “From Discovery to Commercialization: Valuable guidance to enhance the success of your startup.” Additional webinars will be offered throughout the academic year and will cover a wide range of topics. We’ll also have focused "Meet the Investors" sessions with venture capitalists and "Hot Topics" discussions of timely issues. The series will feature guest speakers from a variety of fields.

Two University of Southern California researchers are among the latest to be recognized with prestigious honors by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Congratulations to Professor Paul Daniel Dapkus and Professor Mark Humayun who have each won medals from the IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization for technology advancement.

Florida Atlantic University


We are so proud to share updates from a number of our remarkable Chapter Members.

Herbert Weissbach started a company to develop a drug to treat retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic blinding disease.

Randy Blakely was appointed as NIMH Representative to the Multi-Council Working Group (MCWG) for the NIH BRAIN Project. He also led the FAU Brain Institute in its Summer Undergraduate Scholars (SUNS) program where undergraduates from FAU and other Florida universities were given an intensive, directed-reading experience with FAU faculty to introduce them to research, substituting for in lab experiences missed this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Megan Davis worked with collaborators in Puerto Rico to establish a queen conch hatchery for restoration, which was funded through a grant from Saltonstall-Kennedy NOAA Fisheries. She also recently completed a 10-week study to determine the optimal growing conditions for three species of sea vegetables, which utilize nutrients that are produced by fish, shrimp and other species and are suitable for human consumption.

Johns Hopkins University


We are thrilled to share news of Thrive, an early cancer detection initiative making headlines and saving lives. Thrive Earlier Detection is a startup founded by NAI Fellows Bert Vogelstein & Ken Kinzler. Their company raised $110MM in 2019 followed by $257MM in 2020 to develop their groundbreaking early cancer diagnostics platform.

We have assembled a team of experienced scientists and industry pioneers, including cancer and diagnostic experts and accomplished company builders who are passionate about changing the outlook of a cancer diagnosis.

Our investors include Third Rock Ventures, Section 32, Casdin Capital, Biomatics Capital, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Invus and others – leading investors in the fields of cancer diagnosis and treatment.


Sadly, we share news of the recent passing of three distinguished and admired NAI Fellows: Ed Merrill, Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, and David Lightfoot. We extend our deepest condolences to their families, friends, and colleagues. The impact of their work in their respective fields was beyond measure.

We will mourn their absence, but the world will continue to benefit from their pioneering discoveries.

FNAI Ed Merrill, from MIT, was a founder of Biomaterials, a member of the National Academies of Engineering, Medicine, and Inventors as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Founders Award recipient of AIChE, SFB, a Pierre Galletti recipient from AIMBE, and one of the "100 Eminent Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era" according to AIChE.

As so well stated by Nicholas Peppas, "We are all devastated. Ed had 4,600 Ph.D.s and postdocs in his academic family tree." Ed was 97 years old.

Read about Ed's prolific career.

FNAI Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, from Stanford University, was the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor in Cancer Research and Director of the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS), and had international recognition as a pioneer of molecular imaging.

Last month, he received the 2020 European Society of Molecular Imaging (ESMI) annual award. In 2019 he was honored with the IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award. He passed away on July 18 from cancer at 57 years old.

Read about Sanjiv's prolific career.

FNAI David Lightfoot, of Southern Illinois University, was a professor of biotechnology and head of the Genomic Science facility at SIUC. He was known for his exceptional contributions to the plant science field, including his leadership of the team that created the first physical map of a crop plant genome.

Dr. Lightfoot published over 170 peer-reviewed articles, sixteen book chapters, and thousands of DNA sequences. He was an Illinois Humanities Commission Road Scholar and mentored and trained over 30 postgraduate students. He passed away on Sunday, May 3rd, 2020 at 59 years old.

Read about Dr. Lightfoot’s prolific career.

Investing in the Future of Innovation

On behalf of the NAI leadership and Board of Directors, we wish to extend our sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude to these outstanding organizations for their generous sponsorship of the Academy.

It is with their contributions that NAI is able to continue our mission of supporting academic innovation and providing valuable resources to our inventor Members.

Learn more about our generous supporters.

Thank You!


3702 Spectrum Blvd., Suite 180

Tampa, FL 33612-9445 USA

EMAIL: info@academyofinventors.org

WEB: www.academyofinventors.org

PHONE: +1-813-974-4438