Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla and Professor Susan Taylor of the University of California San Diego were both named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). They are a part of the NAI’s 2018 cohort of 148 new fellows who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation and whose work has improved the quality of life, economic development and welfare of society around the globe.
“I had the honor of serving on the Fellows Selection Committee, and I am confident that this new class of fellows will play a vital role in furthering the NAI’s mission and shining a light on the indispensable scientific and economic contributions of the world’s inventors,” said Linda Hosler, deputy program manager at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Fellows are inducted based on several evaluation criteria that align with NAI’s mission of promoting innovation and collaboration. Criteria include patents and licensing, support of innovation, recognition as a pioneer in their chosen field, mentoring and training future innovators, and service to the academy.
Khosla — who is a renowned electrical and computer engineer — was recognized for the advances he has made in robotics and software, and the influence of his work on commercial practice and IP (intellectual property) creation. An example, from his time at Carnegie Mellon University, is his design and development of a Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm (SCARA) now used in high-speed assembly lines.
Khosla was co-inventor on U.S. patent 9177153, creating a methodology to verify the integrity of an untrusted computer platform — critical to effective cybersecurity. He was the co-founder and member of the board of directors of three startup companies. One company, Quantapoint, is now a global firm serving the chemical, petroleum and power industries with 3D range-finding imaging systems. Another company, Biometricore, was initially spun out of CyLab at Carnegie Mellon, and is one of the largest university-based cybersecurity education and research centers in the U.S.
In his current role as UC San Diego’s chancellor, Khosla oversees one of the largest public research institutions in the nation with $1.2 billion in sponsored research funding (FY18). The campus was recently named fifth best public university in the world by U.S. News and World Report and was ranked fourth in the nation in start-up creation by the Miliken Institute.
While honored to be recognized for his research and inventions, Khosla said he was most proud of his mentorship: “What this next generation of scientists, researchers and engineers will discover and invent inspires great hope for the future. It is a privilege to be a part of these young inventors’ education.”
Fellow inductee Taylor is a professor of pharmacology at UC San Diego School of Medicine and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. She is also a senior fellow at San Diego Supercomputer Center and a researcher with UC San Diego’s Institute of Engineering in Medicine.
Her early research provided a transformative understanding of how protein kinase A (PKA) works in the human body. PKAs are a family of enzymes that act as one of the cell’s most important signaling molecules — helping to regulate everything from memory and lipid metabolism to cell growth and death. Defects in PKAs are associated with immune disorders, cancer and cardiac disease. Her work with longtime collaborator, the late Roger Tsien, helped open up new ways to probe kinases and second messenger signaling in live cells.
Taylor is the co-inventor on three patents. Her pioneering work, which she openly shared with the scientific community, allowed for an entire field of therapeutic discovery. For cancer alone, kinase inhibitors have been used to treat renal cell carcinoma, breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Additionally, her work has led to drug development to treat autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Today there are over 30 small-molecule drugs on the market targeting protein kinases, drawing over $30 billion in revenue annually.
Taylor has also been a tireless advocate for interdisciplinary training and collaborative research at UC San Diego. Her leadership of the Health Sciences Research Council has helped facilitate cross-campus discussions leading to many new and exciting initiatives that take advantage of the tremendous diversity on campus.
NAI was formed in 2010. Since then over 1,000 fellows have been inducted. In total, the fellows have formed more than 9,000 companies, created 1.4 million jobs based on their discoveries and generated over $190 billion from nearly 11,000 licensed inventions. The induction ceremony for the 2018 fellows will be held next April in Houston.