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Three Emory faculty named National Academy of Inventors Fellows
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Carol Clark
Rob Spahr
Portraits of Lam, Margulies and Quave.

Emory University faculty members (from left) Wilbur Lam, Susan S. Margulies and Cassandra Quave have been named to the National Academy of Inventors’ 2023 class of Fellows. Election as an Academy Fellow is the highest professional distinction awarded solely to inventors.

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) named Emory University faculty members Wilbur Lam, Susan S. Margulies and Cassandra Quave to its 2023 class of Fellows. Election as an Academy Fellow is the highest professional distinction awarded solely to inventors.

The 2023 class of Fellows comprises 162 academic inventors spanning 35 U.S. states and 10 countries.

“This year’s class of NAI Fellows showcases the caliber of researchers that are found within the innovation ecosystem,” says Paul Sanberg, president of the NAI. “These individuals are making significant contributions to both science and society through their work.”

Wilbur Lam

Lam serves as the W. Paul Bowers Research Chair and Professor of Pediatrics and Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and Georgia Tech and clinical pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He also serves as associate dean of innovation for Emory University School of Medicine and as chief innovation officer for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center. Lam is a member of the Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics Research Program at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and an inductee of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. Lam is also principal investigator of the NIH-funded Atlanta Center for Microsystems Engineered Point-of-Care Technologies, which is part of the NIH’s Point-of-Care Technologies Research Network and serves as the Test Verification Core of the NIH RADx initiative for developing diagnostic tests initially for COVID-19 but now extending to numerous other diseases.  

Lam’s multidisciplinary research interests involve developing and applying novel micro/nanotechnologies, microfluidics and cellular mechanics to research, diagnose and treat hematologic and oncologic processes. His laboratory is also dedicated to translating their technologies as cost-effective solutions to enable and empower pediatric patients globally to more easily monitor their own conditions at home.

This research led to several key discoveries, including “microvasculature-on-chip” microdevices that function as in vitro models of blood diseases, a smartphone ear scape that has since been acquired and is now produced and sold by Johnson & Johnson, a “single drop of blood” anemia test that was just cleared by the FDA for home use and a smartphone app that uses “fingernail selfie” photos of anemia patients to determine the level of hemoglobin in their blood, replacing the need to draw blood. 

In October, Lam was also elected to the National Academy of Medicine — one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine — for having demonstrated “outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.”

Susan S. Margulies

In addition to her role as a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and Georgia Tech, Margulies is currently serving as the first biomedical engineer to lead the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate of Engineering, which provides more than 40% of the federal funding for fundamental research in engineering at academic institutions.

Prior to taking the helm of the NSF Directorate, she served as the chair of the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering since 2017 — becoming the first woman to chair a basic science department at Emory School of Medicine and the second female chair in the history of Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering. She is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Biomedical Engineering Society, as well as a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine.

Margulies is renowned for her work opening avenues for prevention, intervention and treatment of pediatric brain injury and lung injury associated with mechanical ventilators. With training in mechanical and aerospace engineering, bioengineering, physiology and biophysics, she has conducted more than $35 million in research with funding from the NSF, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and industry sources.

Cassandra Quave

Quave is the Thomas J. Lawley, MD Professor of Dermatology and holds a joint appointment as associate professor in Emory’s Center for the Study of Human Health and the Emory School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology. She serves as assistant dean of research cores for the Emory School of Medicine and is curator of the Emory University Herbarium, a 75-year-old natural history museum.

As an ethnobotanist, she studies the traditional use of medicinal plants to discover antimicrobial compounds that could be developed for use in modern medicine. Quave has been issued seven patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for botanical extracts and compounds to treat or prevent bacterial infections and biofilms. In addition, she has four patent applications pending for medicinal botanical extracts and compounds.

Quave is a founder of two start-up companies, PhyoTEK LLC and Verdant Scientific, which are translating her laboratory discoveries into products for future clinical use. She is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, a past president of the Society for Economic Botany, a recipient of the Emory Williams Teaching Award, Charles Heiser Jr. Mentor Award, American Herbal Products Association Herbal Insight Award, National Academies Eri and Wendy Schmidt Award for Excellence in Science Communication and the American Botanical Council James. A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Award for her memoir, “The Plant Hunter.”

‘Driving crucial advancements’ through innovation

“This new class,” Sanberg says, “in conjunction with our existing Fellows, are creating innovations that are driving crucial advancements across a variety of disciplines and are stimulating the global and national economy in immeasurable ways as they move these technologies from lab to marketplace.”

The 2023 class of Fellows will be honored and presented their medals by a senior official of the USPTO at the NAI 13th-Annual Meeting on June 18, 2024, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Collectively, the 2023 Fellows hold more than 4,600 issued U.S. patents. This year’s class includes two Nobel Laureates; three National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees; 22 members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; and individuals holding other honors and distinctions as well as senior leadership from universities and research institutions. Their work spans disciplines and exemplifies their dedication to, and inspiration for, translating research into commercial technologies that benefit society.

Since its inception in 2012, the NAI Fellows program has grown to include 1,898 exceptional researchers and innovators (including 18 from Emory University) who hold more than 63,000 U.S. patents and 13,000 licensed technologies. NAI Fellows are known for the societal and economic impact of their inventions, contributing to major advancements in science and consumer technologies. Their innovations have generated in excess of $3 trillion in revenue and generated a million jobs.  

The NAI is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, as well as governmental and nonprofit research institutes, with more than 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued by the 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.

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