Since its inception in 2009 with 13 founding institutions, the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has grown to more than 4,600 individual members worldwide from more than 300 U.S. and international colleges and universities, government agencies and non-profit research institutes. That growth continued recently when the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) added its name to the NAI membership roster.
Lance R. McMahon, Ph.D., TTUHSC senior vice president for research and innovation, said the university’s new NAI membership and the appointment of several faculty members as senior members and fellows are important milestones that highlight TTUHSC’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to innovate health care.
“Further, this achievement highlights the benefit of being not only a member of the TTU System, but also a collaborative partner with the many outstanding faculty inventors at Texas Tech University.”
Phil Sizer, P.T., Ph.D., TTUHSC associate vice president for research innovation and an endowed professor in pain science for the TTUHSC School of Health Professions, said that with NAI membership, TTUHSC is posturing itself as an academic institution where research and innovation cultivate inventions with stature.
“At universities, innovation success is built on the strength of its research engine,” Sizer said. “So, the stronger the research, the greater the possibilities for innovating and translating a person's discovery to impactful commercialization and entrepreneurship.”
The menu of NAI programs and opportunities that will be available to TTUHSC and its inventors includes the Global Academic Inventors Network (G.A.I.N.), where seasoned academic inventors connect with and mentor budding collegiate innovators; the Intellectual Property Curriculum Certification Course for those seeking to become inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs; and the ScholarShare Interviews platform, which allows NAI members to collaborate, learn about and share ideas and research with each other.
NAI membership also includes access to the organization’s Senior Member Program and Fellows Program.
NAI’s Senior Membership Program, available only to inventors affiliated with an NAI member institution, is comprised of active faculty, scientists and administrators whose successful patents, licensing and commercialization efforts have made a tangible impact on society. These men and women encourage a spirit of innovation within their communities and institutions and help to educate and mentor the next generation of inventors. Senior Membership candidates also must hold one U.S. patent that has been licensed or commercialized and/or possess five or more U.S. patents.
The NAI Fellows program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a 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. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.
Samuel Prien, Ph.D., from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the TTUHSC School of Medicine, became the first TTUHSC faculty member and the eighth Texas Tech University faculty member to be named a NAI Fellow in June 2022. Several other TTUHSC inventors are expected to join Prien in the not-too-distant future.
Cameron P. Smith, J.D., CLP, assistant vice president for the Texas Tech University System (TTU System) Office of Research Commercialization, praised NAI for cultivating innovation and providing a forum for aspiring inventors, especially at the university level.
“It is fantastic that an organization like NAI now exists to recognize innovation and commercialization achievements of faculty,” Smith said. “With TTUHSC now joining under their own membership, it will only strengthen the TTU System’s commitment to fostering innovative activities for faculty, and it will help bolster the local Lubbock NAI chapter.”