School of Engineering inventor elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

December 13, 2016

Gabriel P. López, Vice President for Research and Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of New Mexico has been named a 2016 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).  The NAI announced today that it has chosen a cohort of 175 inventors from around the world for election as 2016 NAI Fellows.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.

LopezWith the election of the 2016 class there are now 757 NAI Fellows, representing 229 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes. The 2016 Fellows are named inventors on 5,437 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 26,000.

Included among all NAI Fellows are more than 94 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes; 376 members of the three branches of the National Academy of Sciences; 28 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame; 45 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science; 28 Nobel Laureates; 215 AAAS Fellows; 132 IEEE Fellows; and 116 Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, among other awards and distinctions.

López was nominated by the STC.UNM (STC) Board of Directors for the national honor.  On behalf of the STC Board, Chair Sandra Begay stated:

"Dr. López was the STC 2016 Innovation Fellow for his achievements in developing a large portfolio of patented biomaterials technologies at UNM that have high economic impact and societal benefit worldwide.  He has also developed innovative research programs for faculty and students as the founding director of UNM's Center for Biomedical Engineering (CBME).  The goals of CBME are to improve healthcare and outcomes for New Mexicans and to contribute to the growth of the biotechnology industry in the state of New Mexico by creating biomedical technologies for commercial development and new company formation.   We are delighted that Dr. López has received this honor."

STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila added:
"Dr. López’s research discoveries, outstanding inventions, and program leadership are all the more remarkable considering the many hats an academic researcher, inventor and administrator must wear. We are excited at the possibilities to come for UNM's research mission, its faculty and its students as he leads our efforts to achieve even greater levels of outstanding research and innovation.  We are very fortunate to work with such a remarkable inventor and honored that Dr. López has been chosen as a 2016 NAI Fellow."

López's main research focus—biomaterials science—pulls from the disciplines of medicine, biology, chemistry, tissue engineering and materials science to create new materials.  These are generally materials developed for medical applications or applications in which there is some biological context or interaction with a living system.  Biomaterials can be composed of natural substances or synthesized substances, such as polymers, that can be part of or a whole living structure or device that performs or replaces a natural function. Heart value implants, urinary catheters and engineered particles as drug carriers are good examples.

In his career as an inventor at UNM, he has used smart polymers to create environmentally friendly, anti-fouling films, and hybrid biomimetic membranes that can separate different sized molecules at the micro- and nanoscale, particularly applicable for microfluidic devices. His technologies are being used to develop innovations in flow cytometers; particle separation for drug discovery, rare cell detection and environmental sensing; and antimicrobial biofilms and coatings for better ways to disinfect surgical instruments, medical devices and filtration systems.

López has published approximately 200 peer reviewed scientific papers and book chapters. He has served as research advisor to 57 graduate students, 41 postdoctoral fellows, 80 undergraduate students, and 12 high school students; 16 of his former research protégés have gone on to professional academic positions. He has served as PI or co-PI on grants totaling approximately $46 million and his research has been supported by several sources including the NSF, NIH, DOE, NASA, DOD, industry and nonprofit foundations. He has been granted many awards and honors for his research, including the W. Moulton Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Washington, the Stansell Family Distinguished Research Award from Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, the STC.UNM Innovation Fellow Award, the Outstanding University Inventor Award from the Semiconductor Research Corporation, the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award, and election to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering.  He was named "One of the 100 Most Important Hispanics in Technology and Business for 2006" by the editors of Hispanic Engineer and Information Technology.

The 2016 Fellows will be inducted on April 6, 2017, as part of the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston, MA. U.S. Commissioner for Patents, Andrew H. Hirshfeld will provide the keynote address for the induction ceremony. In honor of their outstanding accomplishments, Fellows will be presented with a special trophy, medal, and rosette pin.

The 2016 NAI Fellows will be recognized with a full page announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education Jan. 20, 2017 issue, and in upcoming issues of Inventors Digest and Technology and Innovation.

The 2016 NAI Fellows were evaluated by a selection committee which included 19 members, comprising NAI Fellows, recipients of U.S. National Medals, National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, members of the National Academies and senior officials from the USPTO, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Association of American Universities, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Association of University Technology Managers, and other prominent organizations.

See also the NAI press release at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-academy-of-inventors-announces-2016-fellows-300377099.html?tc=eml_cleartime.

As the technology-transfer and economic-development organization for the University of New Mexico (UNM), STC.UNM (STC) protects and commercializes technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring them to the marketplace.  We connect the business community (companies, entrepreneurs and investors) to these UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of start-up companies. STC’s vision is to play a vital role in New Mexico’s economic development and to be an innovator in technology commercialization worldwide.  Under the leadership of CEO Lisa Kuuttila, STC is substantially growing its program using the Rainforest model to develop an innovation economy in New Mexico. 

The National Academy of Inventors is a 501(c)(3) non-profit member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 3,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 240 institutions, and growing rapidly. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 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.