In December, three UC Berkeley professors were named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, an organization that “honors academic invention” through recognizing inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Being selected as an NAI member is a notable commendation with members including Nobel Laureates and U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipients.

Professor Jennifer Doudna, Professor Jay Keasling and Professor Richard Mathies join the ranks of this year’s 170 named NAI fellows. Come March, Doudna, Keasling and Mathies will be inducted at an annual conference hosted by the National Academy of Inventors at the California Institute of Technology.

Professor Jay Keasling joins the National Academy of Inventors Fellows
Professor Jay Keasling joins the National Academy of Inventors Fellows

Keasling combined several plant genes with yeast to produce a low-cost antimalarial drug. Three million treatments have gone out using this anti-malarial drug, according to Keasling. He holds many titles under his belt. He is a Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering, an associate laboratory director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and director of UC Berkeley’s Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center.

Doudna co-invented a precision DNA-editing technique, called CRISPR/Cas9, which has transformed genetic research and gene therapy. Her research has also led to dozens more patents. Doudna is very busy these days. In addition to being a professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry, she works in the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and as an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is also the executive director of the Innovative Genomics Initiative, which focuses on genome editing research and technology.

A chemistry professor and former dean of the College of Chemistry, Mathies has more than 40 patents to his name. He also co-founded the Center for Analytical Biotechnology.

“It feels great to be inducted with a group of talented people. I’m very humbled,” said Keasling, who is looking forward to the induction in Los Angeles. “I feel pleased that the campus named me,” he said.

Mathies started patent work in 1985 and uses royalties from his patents to fund more programs for graduate students. “One of the important things that faculty do with students in post doc is the development of technology that impacts society,” he said.

Other Berkeley NAI fellows include Professor Carolyn Ruth Bertozzi, Professor George Smoot III and Nobel Prize Laureate and Professor Emeritus Charles H. Townes, who contributed to the invention of the laser through his patent on the maser. For a complete list of NAI fellows, visit the National Academy of Inventors.


Categories: GradNews, Honors and Awards, January 2015
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About Sarah McClure

Sarah McClure is a Master's candidate in the Graduate School of Journalism. She is studying multimedia journalism and covers the environment and Latin America.