Johns Hopkins Faculty Members Elected Fellows of National Academy of Inventors

Johns Hopkins Faculty Members Elected Fellows of National Academy of Inventors

At a ceremony on Nov. 11, 2016, the university recognized its National Academy of Inventors fellows.

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) last fall elected three Johns Hopkins University professors as NAI fellows in recognition of the breadth of their innovations and their dedication to improving human life through their work.

Kenneth Kinzler, Se-Jin Lee and Bert Vogelstein, all professors at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, join the 579 other fellows elected since the NAI’s founding in 2010, including four others from Johns Hopkins: Jennifer Elisseeff, professor of ophthalmology; Justin Hanes, professor of ophthalmology, neurosurgery, oncology, and pharmacology and molecular sciences; Solomon Snyder, professor of neuroscience, pharmacology and molecular sciences, and psychiatry and behavioral sciences; and James West, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Election is a “high honor bestowed upon academic innovators and inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions and innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society,” the NAI writes.

The 2015 fellows account for more than 5,300 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI fellows to more than 20,000. NAI fellows are 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.

Kinzler’s laboratory focuses on the genetics of human cancer. He and his team members have identified myriad genetic mutations that underlie cancer and have developed a variety of powerful tools for analysis of expression and genetic alterations in cancer. The identification of genetic differences between normal and tumor tissue provides new therapeutic targets, new opportunities for the early diagnosis of cancer and important insights into the neoplastic process.

Lee, a professor of molecular biology and genetics, is credited with discovering myostatin, a protein that inhibits muscle growth. His research focuses on regulation of mammalian development and adult tissue homeostasis by growth and differentiation factors. His laboratory’s primary interest is to understand the role of signaling molecules in regulating embryonic development and adult tissue homeostasis. Lee holds more than 50 U.S. patents.

Vogelstein, a professor of oncology and pathology, is developing new approaches to the prevention or treatment of cancers through a better understanding of the genes and pathways underlying their pathogenesis. His primary focus is on cancers of the colon and rectum.

In 1989, Vogelstein identified the p53 gene mutation in colon cancer, a mutation now known as the most common gene mutation in all types of cancers. His lab went on to discover a series of other mutations linked to p53. Vogelstein and his colleagues also created gene tests for rare forms of hereditary colon cancers and later created a stool test to screen for genes linked to more common, sporadic colon cancers.

More recently, Vogelstein and his colleagues were the first to create genomic maps of cancer, starting with breast and colon cancers. They’ve mapped many other cancer genes as well, leading to the discovery of mutations in the IDH1 gene, which are common in brain cancer. Scientists can use these maps to pinpoint characteristics of each person’s cancer and tailor therapies and diagnostics to guide treatment. In 2013, Vogelstein received the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

The new fellows will be inducted on April 15 as part of the NAI’s fifth annual conference at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia.

Kinzler, Lee and Vogelstein were also among 27 Johns Hopkins faculty members inducted into the university’s NAI chapter at that chapter’s first ceremony on Nov. 11. See photographs from that event.

The other 24 inductees included:

  • Ergin Atalar, adjunct professor of radiology and radiological science
  • Stephen Baylin, professor of oncology and medicine
  • Ronald Berger, professor of medicine and biomedical engineering
  • Paul Bottomley, professor of radiology and radiological science, medicine, and biomedical engineering
  • Ted Dawson, professor of neuroscience, neurology, and pharmacology and molecular sciences
  • Henry Halperin, professor of medicine, radiology and radiological science, and biomedical engineering
  • Ru Chih Huang, research professor in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology
  • John Isaacs, professor of oncology and urology
  • Anthony Kalloo, professor of medicine and director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
  • Albert Lardo, associate professor of medicine and biomedical engineering
  • Joao Lima, professor of medicine and of radiology and radiological science
  • Hai-Quan Mao, professor of materials science and engineering
  • Drew Pardoll, professor of oncology, medicine and pathology
  • Gary Posner, professor of chemistry
  • Peter Searson, professor of oncology and of materials science and engineering
  • Terry Shelley, senior instrument designer for the school of medicine
  • David Sidransky, professor of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery, oncology, pathology and urology
  • Dan Stoianovici, professor of urology, neurosurgery and oncology
  • Saraswati Sukumar, professor of oncology and pathology
  • Paul Talalay, professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences
  • Russell Taylor, professor of radiology and radiological science, surgery, and computer science
  • Victor Velculescu, professor of oncology and pathology
  • Timothy Weihs, professor of materials science and engineering and of mechanical engineering
  • Paul Worley, professor of neuroscience and neurology