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Sunday, Nov 19, 2017
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Three USF innovators receive national honor

— Three University of South Florida professors are among 170 across the country designated as 2014 Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

Michael Fountain, a professor in the College of Engineering and the Morsani College of Medicine who also holds an endowed chair in the Muma College of Business; Robert Byrne, a professor in the College of Marine Science; and Victor Poirier, a professor at the USF Institute for Advanced Discovery and Innovation, earned the titles earlier this month and will be inducted in March at the Academy’s fourth annual meeting in Pasadena, California.

They were recognized for demonstrating 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,” the academy said.

“We are delighted to recognize the 2014 NAI Fellows and their unparalleled commitment to excellence in academic invention,” Paul Sanberg, USF senior vice president for research and innovation and president of the academy, said in an announcement of the honors. “Their many discoveries have made a truly significant impact on society and we are proud to honor them for these contributions.”

USF has been building a culture of entrepreneurship and research with potential commercial applications, and the university is now tops in the state in generating patents. Five USF professors, along with the head of Moffitt Cancer Center who holds a joint appointment to USF, were recognized as charter fellows in the academy’s first class last year.

Fountain is founding director for the USF Interdisciplinary Center for Entrepreneurship. Between 1981 and 1996, he was founder or co-founder of 11 life science, medical device and biotechnology companies.

He is the inventor on more than 70 U.S. and foreign patents used in more than 100 health care products worldwide.

Byrne has made significant contributions in the field of marine physical chemistry. He holds 13 U.S. and foreign patents and is one of the co-founders of Ocean Optics Inc., the Dunedin-based manufacturer of the world’s first miniature spectrometers.

Poirier is former chief executive and president of Thermo Cardiosystems and formerly chief technology adviser for Thoratec Corp. He is a pioneer of artificial heart technology and invented a device used to take over the pumping function of the natural heart. He holds 17 U.S. patents.

This month’s announcement brings the number of NAI fellows to 414. Members represent more than 150 prestigious research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions.

The 414 fellows collectively hold nearly 14,000 U.S. patents.

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