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Two USF faculty members receive honors from National Academy of Inventors

NAI inventors

Professors Niketa Patel, Ph.D., and Mark Jaroszeski, Ph.D.

Two University of South Florida faculty members, recognized for their breakthrough discoveries and inventions in drug delivery and medical engineering, and diagnosis and treatment for challenging diseases, especially Alzheimer’s and cancer, are among the 2023 Fellows elected to the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

They are USF College of Engineering Professor of Medical Engineering Mark J. Jaroszeski; and USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Professor of Molecular Medicine Niketa A. Patel.

“From making DNA/drug delivery accessible—especially to help advance chemotherapy treatment, working on the frontier of mRNA treatments for cancer, and discovering new ways to understand and treat the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, these two faculty members have worked selflessly to improve the lives of everyone stricken with diseases that currently have no cure,” said USF Vice President for Research & Innovation Sylvia Wilson Thomas.

The 2023 class of Fellows represents NAI’s foundational and continuing commitment to diversifying innovation on all levels, with underrepresented inventors comprising 33% of this year’s class. This year’s class also showcases regional diversity with Fellows representing 35 U.S. states and 10 countries, exemplifying the Academy’s belief that great innovators can be found everywhere. Collectively, the 2023 Fellows hold over 4,600 issued U.S. patents.

Meet this year’s USF honorees:

Mark J. Jaroszeski, Ph.D.

Jaroszeski is Professor of Medical Engineering at the University of South Florida College of Engineering. Jaroszeski is a leading innovator in developing DNA/drug delivery technologies and methods to treat disease. He was one of the early pioneers performing in vivo electroporation during the early 1990’s and was among the first researchers to develop basic electrodes and pulsing protocols to deliver chemotherapeutic agents to tumors in animal models in vivo, safely, and effectively, with strong anti-tumor effects. His work on the frontiers of DNA/drug delivery over the past 20 years laid the foundation for more than 100 current clinical trials using gene delivery. He holds 34 U.S. patents, 12 of which have been licensed to seven companies. He is also currently Vice President of Research for EF Therapeutics, Inc., a start-up company focused on DNA delivery and translating it to the human and veterinary clinical markets. He has published 62 articles in peer-reviewed journals, two books and 11 book chapters, and presented at more than 114 conferences worldwide. He serves as a manuscript reviewer for 21 journals, as well as frequent reviewer for the National Institutes of Health. He has organized/chaired seven professional conferences, and is a delegate to the International Bioelectrics Consortium, a collection of research groups from about 15 countries.

Niketa A. Patel, Ph.D.

Patel is Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine, at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, and Research Career Scientist at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, Florida. Patel is a leader in the field of cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative and metabolic disease. She was among the first to demonstrate that insulin regulates pre-mRNA (Messenger RNA) alternative splicing—a key signaling pathway between the body’s DNA genome code and individual cells, especially for developing the proteins that are the building blocks of life. The discovery that alternative splicing can be regulated established a paradigm shift in the field, opening broad new avenues for prevention and treatment of a host of diseases, including cancer. Her seminal research has also advanced understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic pathways in neurodegenerative diseases—especially innovative methods and compounds for diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s disease. She was elected NAI Senior Member in 2020 and has received Outstanding Performance Ratings from the Office of Veterans Affairs annually since 2011. She holds 11 U.S. Patents, eight of which are parent/priority, representing breakthrough patents in the field. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, and currently serves on the editorial board for three journals, and on the review board for nearly two dozen additional journals and organizations. She has additionally provided leadership service to the national Veterans Administration, on a variety of committees.

Since its inception in 2012, the NAI Fellows program has grown to include 1,898 exceptional researchers and innovators, who hold over 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 over $3 trillion in revenue and generated 1 million jobs.  

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

The complete list of NAI Fellows is available here.

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