University of South Florida


Five USF Faculty Elected Senior Members of the National Academy of Inventors

image of scientist adding liquids to a testtube - patent graphics imposed on image

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has named five USF faculty members who have distinguished themselves in the fields of health and energy innovation to the February 2020 class of NAI Senior Members, the organization announced today.

NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists and administrators from NAI member institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. They also have proven success in patents, licensing and commercialization.

The five new Senior Members are:

Professor Emeritus Barry B. Bercu
Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology
Morsani College of Medicine

Barry Bercu

Dr. Barry Bercu is professor emeritus of pediatrics and affiliate professor of molecular pharmacology and physiology at the Morsani College of Medicine where he served as professor of pediatrics for 35 years. He also currently serves as a biomedical consultant for the U.S. Government, the State of Florida and numerous industry and healthcare organizations. During his tenure at USF, he was the driving force for the creation of the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation. Prior to joining USF, he was the founding director of the pediatric endocrine fellowship training program at the National Institutes of Health where he also served as head of the pediatric endocrine laboratory unit. He also held appointments at the Uniformed Services University and George Washington University. He served as a major and captain in the U.S. Air Force, and served on several medical advisory panels for the Food and Drug Administration and the NIH. He holds five U.S. patents.

Professor Wayne Guida
Department of Chemistry
College of Arts & Sciences  

Wayne Guida

Dr. Wayne Guida’s career spans four decades in both industry and academia and he is the past chair of the Department of Chemistry where he also leads the Guida Lab. He co-created the breakthrough technology MacroModel, a graphics-driven molecular modeling system that revolutionized computational chemistry and advanced modern drug discovery. Dr. Guialso serves as a collaborator member in the Chemical Biology and Molecular Medicine Program at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, where he previously served as the senior member of the Drug Discovery Department and the co-scientific director of the Chemical Biology Core Labs. He is Professor Emeritus at Eckerd College where he was a member of the faculty from 1976 to 1986 and then from 1999 to 2007. Dr. Guida served as President and CEO of Schrödinger, Inc. where he continues to serve as a consultant and a member of the company’s scientific advisory board. Prior to his role as CEO, he was the executive director of Biomolecular Structure, Lead Finding, and Computing at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research (formerly CIBA-Geigy Pharmaceuticals), where he supervised a group of scientists engaged in molecular modeling, structural bioinformatics, X-ray crystallography, protein NMR spectroscopy, protein biochemistry, and high-throughput screening. Dr. Guida also has served as a consultant for a number of pharmaceutical companies and he currently consults for BioMarin Pharmaceutical Co. and the Tampa Bay Research Institute. He holds 12 U.S. patents and has licensed and commercialized several discoveries.

Associate Professor Niketa A. Patel
Department of Molecular Medicine
Morsani College of Medicine

Niketa Patel

Dr. Patel serves as a research scientist at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, where she is the director of the Molecular Analysis and Core Laboratory Facility. Prior to this, she was an assistant professor of Molecular Medicine in the Morsani College of Medicine. As the head of her research program, Dr. Patel focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and the impacts of metabolic cascades in neurodegenerative diseases. Over the course of her career, Dr. Patel has successfully carved a niche in integrating RNA biology with signaling in biologically relevant systems and understanding how it may be a cause or consequence of a disease.  She has contributed to the fundamental understanding of alternative splicing by identifying the critical role that hormones and nutrients play in the process. She was one of the first to demonstrate that alternative splicing is a crucial mechanism for protein diversity, which represents a paradigm shift in the field. Over the course of the last 13 years, she has had significant involvement in numerous committees both at USF and the VA. At USF, she is a member of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). She is a founding member of the self-governing Women in Science group and is a member of the executive committee for the NAI USF Chapter.  At the VA, she is a member of the IACUC, the Research and Development Committee, and the Research Building Activation Committee. She is a member of the VA Endocrine Merit Review Committee and the NIH Cellular Aspects of Diabetes and Obesity review panel, among others. She holds five U.S. patents.

Dr. Manoj Ram
President, Poly Materials
Former Associate Research Professor, College of Engineering
Clean Energy Research Center

Dr. Ram

Dr. Ram is the president of USF-based startup PolyMaterials App, LLC, which develops smart materials with practical applications in energy storage via supercapacitors, thermal storage, hydrogen storage, energy conversion via plasmonic emitters and rectennas, and environmental applications photocatalytic oxidation. Dr. Ram’s accomplishments include the discovery of a smart material that can change color from opaque to transparent or another color with a simple touch of a metal. This low-cost material is now called “Touchchromic” and is an alternative to electrochromic materials. This technology can be used in applications, such as, windows, rear view mirrors, IR sensors, camouflage and other military applications. Dr. Ram also invented smart materials and methods to decontaminate organic pollutants including petroleum using metal oxide nanostructures and a bio-surfactant. He has solved one of the biggest challenges in the fabrication of flexible high specific capacitance supercapacitor electrodes. Additionally, Dr. Ram has developed technologies for macro and micro encapsulation of thermal energy storage phase change materials and invented technologies for splitting water using an alpha hematite nanomaterial and aligned zinc oxide nanowires for photovoltaic applications.

Dr. Ram holds seven U.S. patents and has 22 patents pending.

Dr. Cyndy Davis Sanberg
Senior Director of Business Engagement and Internships
Muma College of Business

Cyndy Davis Sanberg

Dr. Sanberg has served as vice president of research and development for Saneron CCEL Therapeutics and has over a decade of experience developing a stem cell product from umbilical cord blood for the treatment of ALS and stroke.  She has also established a cord blood stem cell bank at the USF Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair.  Her efforts while at Saneron included the development of a new cell separation product in collaboration with GE Healthcare. Dr. Sanberg is the author of over 80 scientific publications including, Cell Therapy, Stem Cells, and Brain Repair, a book dedicated to stem cell therapies and research. She has been a scientific reviewer for 15 scientific journals including Brain Research, Journal of Neuroscience, and Life Sciences. Her efforts have also been focused on all-natural, botanical approaches for health and well-being. She is a patent inventor for the platform technology of Natura Therapeutics, Inc. She has been awarded 4 grants for nutraceutical research involving green tea for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.  She has also served as project coordinator for several research and development programs affiliated with large nutraceutical companies studying botanical/herbal extracts for the treatment of various diseases.  Most recently, Dr. Sanberg serves as the Senior Director for Business Engagement & Internships for the Muma College of Business at USF where she builds relationships for the college and helps to establish internship programs with Tampa Bay and International companies for business students. She holds five U.S. patents and one pending. 

This latest class of NAI Senior Members represents 16 research universities and government and non-profit research institutes. They are named inventors on 368 issued U.S. patents.

“NAI Member Institutions support some of the most elite inventors on the horizon. With the NAI Senior Member award distinction, we are recognizing innovators who are rising stars in their fields,” said NAI President Paul R. Sanberg. “This new class is joining a prolific group of academic visionaries already defining tomorrow.”

Senior Members are elected biannually, and nominations are accepted on a rolling basis. Nominations are currently being accepted for the next Senior Member class.

A full list of NAI Senior Members is available on the NAI website.

Return to article listing