National Academy of Inventors names Emory’s David Stephens and Lanny Liebeskind as fellows

Emory Report | Dec. 8, 2020

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Two longtime Emory University academic and research leaders, David Stephens and Lanny Liebeskind, have been named 2020 fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional distinction accorded to academic inventors.

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Two longtime Emory University academic and research leaders, David Stephens and Lanny Liebeskind, have been named 2020 fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). 

NAI fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded to academic inventors. The program recognizes academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation by creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

Stephens and Liebeskind are among 175 new fellows representing 115 research universities and government and non-profit institutes worldwide. The 2020 fellow class collectively holds more than 4,700 U.S. government-issued patents.

This year’s class of fellows will be inducted in June 2021 at the NAI’s 10th anniversary meeting in Tampa, Florida. 

Lanny Liebeskind

Lanny Liebeskind, PhD, is vice provost for strategic research initiatives and the Samuel Candler Dobbs professor of chemistry at Emory. He has, over his extensive academic career, pursued both the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge — both through fundamental research and the translation of his discoveries for the benefit of society. 

A fellow of the American Chemical Society, Liebeskind’s research interests center on the discovery of new reactions and application of transition metal chemistry to challenging problems in organic synthesis. He holds more than 15 patents and his discoveries have yielded useful technologies for a variety of industries, from pharmaceuticals to agro-chemicals. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and industry stalwarts such as Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson and Johnson. 

Liebeskind has lectured at universities and corporations throughout the world and published more than 169 research papers in peer-reviewed journals. Through the Liebeskind lab at Emory, he has mentored several people who have gone on to pursue careers in academia and the private sector. 

David Stephens

David Stephens, MD, is vice president for research at Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) and chair of the department of medicine in the School of Medicine.

A veteran infectious diseases clinician, teacher and researcher, Stephens holds several patents and has published more than 500 peer-reviewed papers, abstracts and book chapters. Under his research leadership, external funding for discovery at WSHC has seen phenomenal growth, increasing from $387 million in 2008 to $778 million this fiscal year.

He has played a major role in the creation and development of entities that have proven foundational for Emory’s preeminence in infectious diseases research including the Emory Vaccine Center, the Emory Center for AIDS Research, and the Serious Communicable Diseases Unit. Stephens also co-leads the National Institutes of Health-funded Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium, which runs the nation’s vaccine trials and evaluation units, and is currently involved in testing COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic candidates.

The recipient of several training awards, Stephens has mentored hundreds of students from undergraduates to post-doctoral fellows who have gone on to careers in medicine, academia and innovation. He is a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American College of Physicians and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  


About the National Academy of Inventors 

Founded in 2010, the NAI is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities and government and non-profit research institutes. With the election of the 2020 class, there are now more than 1,400 NAI fellows, including 12 from Emory, spanning more than 250 institutions around the globe. Collectively, the fellows hold more than 38,000 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies, 2,300 companies and created more than 19.5 million jobs. In addition, over $2.2 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI fellow discoveries

The complete list of NAI Fellows is available here.