Birmingham boasts eight National Academy of Inventors Fellows

Local NAI Fellows, from top left clockwise, Briles, Buchsbaum, DeLucas, Marchase, Tipton, Suto, Sicking and Mirov.

Did you know that Birmingham is home to eight Fellows from the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) – more than three times the national average?

This is important to economic development growth because these Fellows bring with them an understanding of academic technology and innovation and the role it plays in growing a community. The NAI encourages Fellows to disclose intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate inventions to benefit society.

The local Fellows include:

  • David E. Briles, professor of Microbiology and Pediatrics at the UAB School of Medicine who holds patents on pneumococcal vaccine antigens;
  • Donald J. Buchsbaum, professor of Radiation Oncology, Surgery, Pathology, Pharmacology & Toxicology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics at the UAB School of Medicine and is an internationally recognized leader in the field of monoclonal antibodies and their use for cancer therapy;
  • Lawrence J. DeLucas, director of UAB’s Center for Structural Biology and Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering, professor at the School of Optometry, senior scientist at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and a biochemist who flew aboard NASA Space Shuttle mission STS-50 as a Payload Specialist;
  • Richard B. Marchase, retired vice president of research and economic development at UAB who worked for the university for 30 years to advance strategic business, governmental and academic partnerships to support UAB research efforts;
  • Sergey Mirov, professor of Physics at UAB and inventor of a laser licensed by IPG Photonics, an international manufacturer of high-performance lasers that now has a major presence in Birmingham;
  • Dean L. Sicking, professor of engineering at UAB and a leading figure in highway safety research, having developed the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers used on NASCAR and Indy Racing League tracks around the world and most interstates;
  • Mark J. Suto, vice president of drug discovery for Southern Research and head of the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance, a unique partnership between Southern Research and UAB that has more than 15 drugs in the development pipeline; and
  • Arthur J. Tipton, president and CEO of Birmingham’s Southern Research, a Birmingham-based contract research organization that has seven FDA-approved drugs on the market.

These eight represent 206 patents and more than 140 pending patent applications. These NAI Fellows 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.

“Early in my commercial career, I was fortunate to be mentored that ideas in the pharmaceutical space could not be commercialized without patent protection, and have continued to use that training to aggressively pursue patent strategy on every program,” said Southern Research’s Tipton, a NAI class of 2013 Fellow. “Patents are among the most tangible measures of innovation leading to products, and NAI celebrates those who have been successful in this pursuit.”

It is because of honors such as this that the entrepreneurial spirit of Birmingham is becoming recognized nationally and internationally. The reputations of both Southern Research, one of the country’s leading nonprofit research institutions, and UAB, one of the top research universities in the country, are continuing to grow.

As a result, Birmingham is gaining attention as a place for entrepreneurs to find a supportive environment with an innovative ecosystem that encourages inventive thought. In turn, this leads to the attraction of more innovative thought leaders to the community and more homegrown innovation developing locally.

“It is critical to cultivate a culture of innovation in Birmingham which will lead to intellectual property and patents, translational research, and commercialization.  This will create new jobs, products, and medical treatments to improve the quality of life, economic development, and welfare of its residents, and society.  It is an honor to be a part of this year’s Innovation Week Birmingham,” said UAB’s Buchsbaum, a NAI class of 2016 Fellow. 

Since 2010, the NAI has grown to boast a membership of 757 Fellows worldwide representing more than 229 prestigious universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes, including the UAB and Southern Research. Collectively, NAI Fellows hold more than 26,500 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 9,400 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 1.3 million jobs. In addition, over $137 billion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

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