Dartmouth Engineering Professor Named a 2013 National Academy of Inventors Fellow

December 12, 2013

Tillman Gerngross, Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth, has been named a 2013 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow.

NAI Fellow status is granted to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating inventions that have made an impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. The 143 new Fellows represent 94 universities and research institutes and together hold more than 5,600 US patents. 

Professor Gerngross—teacher, scholar, and serial entrepreneur—built his first startup, GlycoFi, around an invention that most experts said couldn’t be done: a genetically engineered yeast strain that produces fully human glycoproteins. Merck & Co acquired GlycoFi for $400 million in cash, just six years after the filing of the first patent. The new yeast not only increases production capacity for therapeutic proteins, but also makes it safer, more effective, and cheaper to produce these important drugs.

Gerngross has gone on to start four more companies—Adimab, Arsanis, Avitide, and Alector—all dedicated to translating research at the interface of engineering and medicine into new and improved methods for treating disease. The latest, Alector, aims to discover antibodies in one of the areas of highest unmet medical need: Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative diseases.

"The USPTO and the NAI work closely together to promote innovation and support inventors," said Margaret A. (Peggy) Focarino, US Commissioner for Patents.  "The NAI Fellows program is a great opportunity to honor our nation's outstanding inventors."

NAI Fellows were nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.

Fellows will be inducted by the Deputy US Commissioner for Patents, Andrew Faile, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), during the 3rd Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, on March 6, 2014 at USPTO Headquarters in Alexandria, VA. They will be presented with a special trophy and a rosette pin, and a plaque listing the name and institution of each Fellow will be on permanent display at the USPTO.

Fellows will also be recognized with a full page announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Jan. 17, 2014, and in upcoming issues of Inventors Digest and Technology and Innovation – Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors.