University of Utah Health professors Thomas (Wade) Fallin and Bellamkonda Kishore, M.D., Ph.D., have been named Senior Members by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). They are part of the 2023 class of Senior Members made up of 95 of the foremost emerging academic inventors identified by NAI’s Member Institutions.
Fallin and Kishore join Ashutosh Tiwari, Ph.D., an engineering professor at the U, as the university’s three NAI Senior Members. Tiwari was elected in 2021. NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists, and administrators from NAI Member Institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. They also have growing success in patents, licensing, and commercialization, while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors.
Kishore, an adjunct professor of internal medicine (nephrology), has researched physiology, pathophysiology, and experimental therapeutics of the kidney, obesity, and related systems for 40 years. His career has spanned the globe from India and Japan to Belgium and the United States, including four years at the intramural research program of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and two decades as faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine at University of Utah Health and principal investigator in the Department of Veterans Affairs Salt Lake City Health Care System.
Recently, Kishore’s career branched off to a new path—entrepreneurship. In addition to his adjunct position at the U, he is the CEO, president, co-founder, and CSO of ePurines, a startup located in the U’s Research Park. Kishore’s patented technologies—commercialized through ePurines—offer innovative purinergic signaling-based therapies for obesity, metabolic syndrome, and a variety of kidney, liver, heart, and lung diseases with a target patient population of 500 million to 1 billion globally.
When Kishore graduated from medical school in 1976, he spent barely six months practicing medicine before deciding to return to medical school to research the kidney. “That was a very tough decision because you’re leaving a bright and secure future,” he said. “But my heart was in the science from the beginning, and somehow I could not be happy sitting in the clinic and looking at patients.”
Being named an NAI Senior Member is “a rewarding recognition” that his choice to continue his research was correct. “It is a culmination of 40 years of my research life,” said Kishore, who believes that a passionate, purpose-oriented life is far superior to an ambitious, success-driven life.
Fallin, an orthopaedics research professor and Louis S. Peery, M.D. Orthopaedic Innovation Center (LSP OIC) executive director, has started and sold five companies in the medical device industry with a focus on the orthopaedics and spine markets and holds over 250 issued U.S. patents.
“My entire career focus has been on innovating new medical device technologies that reduce pain and suffering resulting from injury or disease,” Fallin said. “In addition to being a ‘serial entrepreneur,’ I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to be a ‘serial innovator,’ which has led to over a dozen commercial orthopaedic surgical systems that are in clinical use around the world today.”
The LSP OIC and Fallin, with his history as an entrepreneur combined with his experience at the U starting in 2019, are excellent resources to U faculty members and students looking to “understand the process of translating from early-stage ideas to something that’s clinically and commercially successful for medical devices,” Fallin said.
“The National Academy of Inventors fosters innovation in academic settings,” Fallin said. “Their membership works to increase the level of innovation at universities, so being part of that is really appealing to me.”
This latest class of NAI Senior Members, the largest to date, demonstrates a shared commitment to celebrating the diversity of the academic ecosystem, with 48 outstanding female and/or minority academic inventors included. Hailing from 50 NAI member institutions and research universities across the nation, this impressive class are named inventors on more than 1,200 issued U.S. patents, with many of those being licensed and commercialized.
“I’m delighted to see how this program has expanded in just a couple years’ time,” said Paul R. Sanberg, FNAI, NAI president. “It really reflects the shift we are seeing at universities where invention is not only being recognized but prioritized as well.”
The 2023 class of Senior Members will be celebrated at NAI’s Annual Meeting, Diversifying Innovation for a Strong Economy and a Sustainable Future, taking place June 25-27, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
University of Utah Health provides leading-edge and compassionate care for a referral area that encompasses Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and much of Nevada. 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