University of Utah distinguished professor of chemistry Peter Stang and professor of pediatrics Anne Blaschke were two of 168 academic inventors named as Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors for 2019. Stang opened pathways in organic chemistry reactions and now explores ways to form molecules into self-assembled geometric shapes. Blaschke played key roles in developing molecular tests for rapidly diagnosing infectious diseases.
Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction given to 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,” according to NAI.
Self-assembled supramolecular shapes
Stang’s current work explores the formation of supramolecular (multi-molecule) shapes, including 2-D and 3-D forms. This research is applicable in medicine, as complex molecules that include metallic and organic components can be used as antibiotics and in cancer therapies. It’s also applicable in nanotechnology, as supramolecular complexes can be used as nanoscale devices to store information or carry out chemical processes.
Stang is a past recipient of the U’s Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of the Linus Pauling Medal, the National Medal of Science and the Priestly Medal.
“I am surprised, honored and pleased to be elected a Fellow of the NAI,” Stang said.
Born in Germany and raised in Hungary, Stang graduated from DePaul University in 1963, received his doctorate in 1966 from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University in 1968 before arriving at the University of Utah in 1969. He served as the dean of the College of Science from 1997 to 2007 and has served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Chemical Society since 2002.
Infectious disease diagnostics
Blaschke has been instrumental in advancing new technologies to improve the diagnosis and management of infectious diseases. She collaborated with BioFire Diagnostics, LLC, a University of Utah-founded biotechnology company, to develop the FilmArray System, a multiplex PCR based diagnostic test that detects and identifies bacterial and viral pathogens directly from clinical specimens. The FilmArray has been FDA approved for five different syndromic panels, including diagnostics for respiratory infection, bloodstream infection, and meningitis. Over 4000 FilmArray systems have been installed in healthcare settings across every continent in the world except Antarctica.
Blaschke has been the primary investigator or co-investigator on seven NIH grants for development of the FilmArray. She has over 50 published manuscripts, including the original manuscript describing the technology. Her current research seeks to understand the impact of new diagnostic technologies on clinical care.
“It is very exciting to be selected as an NAI Fellow and to be included with so many great scientists and inventors,” Blaschke said.
After completing both her medical and graduate degrees at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Blaschke carried out a pediatric residency and fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital. In addition to her research, she remains active in caring for children with infectious illness with a particular interest in serious bacterial infections such as invasive pneumococcal and staphylococcal disease.
In total, the 2019 Fellow class represents 136 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide and collectively hold over 3,500 issued U.S. patents. The NAI Fellows Induction Ceremony will be held on April 10, 2020, in Phoenix—a commemorative event at the Ninth Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors.
Other NAI Fellows from the U include:
College of Engineering
Richard B. Brown, dean
David W. Pershing, former U president and chemical engineering distinguished professor
Cynthia M. Furse, electrical and computer engineering professor
Stephen C. Jacobsen, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering (deceased)
Jindřich Henry Kopeček, distinguished professor of biomedical engineering
Anil V. Virkar, distinguished professor of material science and engineering
College of Mines and Earth Sciences
Jan D. Miller distinguished professor and Ivor D. Thomas endowed chair of metallurgical engineering
Zhigang Zak Fang, professor of metallurgical engineering
School of Medicine
David R. Hillyard, professor of pathology
Lisa A. Cannon-Albright, professor and chief of the division of genetic epidemiology
Thomas N. Parks, professor emeritus, departments of neurobiology and anatomy
Carl T. Wittwer, professor of pathology
College of Pharmacy
Glenn D. Prestwich, professor of medicinal chemistry
Sung Wan Kim, distinguished professor of the Center for Controlled Chemical Delivery
About the National Academy of Inventors
The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), 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. The NAI has a close collaborative relationship with the USPTO and is one of three honorific organizations, along with the National Medals and National Inventors Hall of Fame, working closely with the USPTO on many discovery and innovation support initiatives. The NAI publishes the multidisciplinary journal Technology and Innovation. Learn more about the NAI at academyofinventors.org.