VCU Chemistry professor one of two at VCU, named senior members of the National Academy of Inventors

August 18, 2020

Two members of the Virginia Commonwealth University community have been named senior members of the National Academy of Inventors.

P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., the university’s vice president for research and innovation, and Everett Carpenter, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry in the College of Humanities and Sciences, are two of 38 academic inventors in the academy’s August 2020 class of senior members.Honorees are active faculty, scientists and administrators from member institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation-producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society, according to the National Academy of Inventors.

Senior members are elected biannually. The latest class represents 24 research universities, government and nonprofit research institutes. They are named inventors on over 397 issued U.S. patents.

“NAI member institutions support some of the most elite innovators on the horizon. With the NAI senior member award distinction, we are recognizing innovators who are rising stars in their fields and the innovative ecosystems that support their work,” said Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., president of the National Academy of Inventors. “This new class is joining a prolific group of academic visionaries already defining tomorrow.” 

Rao, who heads VCU’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and is a member of the School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, is the inventor on eight U.S. patents that are being commercialized by two companies he co-founded: Mardil, a medical device company, and Diakron Pharmaceuticals, a cardiovascular drug development company. Carpenter is the inventor on seven U.S. patents, in addition to pending applications and international filings. A family of his inventions were licensed to Nanofoundry LLC, a company he co-founded to develop low-cost permanent magnets that do not require the use of rare earth elements.

Rao and Carpenter are the fifth and sixth members of the VCU community to be named senior members, joining Ben Ward, Ph.D., Supriyo Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., Swadesh Das, Ph.D., and Shunlin Ren, M.D., Ph.D.

“We are very proud of the election of Vice President Srirama Rao and Dr. Everett Carpenter as senior members of the academy,” said Ivelina Metcheva, Ph.D., senior executive director of VCU’s Innovation Gateway, which facilitates the commercialization of university inventions for the benefit of the public. “Such an honor is bestowed on members of the academy who have demonstrated a drive to see their research translated into commercial products.”

Carpenter said he was grateful to be recognized as a senior member of the academy. 

“This is a great honor,” he said. “This recognition encourages me to be more creative and seek out more opportunities to develop my inventions.”

Rao called the recognition “a privilege and an honor” and said he looks forward to further advancing a culture of innovation and a spirit of entrepreneurship to current and future generations of inventors.

“As an inventor, it’s always gratifying to be associated with discovery or innovation that actually makes it into the field of practice. In that sense, I am privileged that some of the patents that I have been associated with and licensed to various startups are in different stages of clinical trials and testing,” he said. 

“I remain hopeful that they will continue to move forward in the approval process and have an impact on patients who could benefit the most.”