Q&A with Professor Srinivas Sridhar: Awardee of the 2023 National Academy of Inventors

Congratulations to Professor Srinivas Sridhar on his election as a 2023 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow. Sridhar’s election comes from demonstrating a “highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society.” Read more about the innovations that have led to this award.

Can you tell me more about this award and what invention led to your nomination’s success?

The National Academy of Inventors is an academic organization intended to promote inventions central to our technology and economy. Every year, they select people they believe deserve the honor of being elected as a Fellow, which is among the highest honor they bestow. I was elected this year, for several inventions that had an impact on society. These inventions are included in nine patents that I have been awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Organization on topics ranging from nanomedicine, neurotechnology, magnetic resonance, MRI imaging, optical and bio-nano sensors.

What are some of your other innovations?

I’ve been a physics professor here at Northeastern and have worked on many topics, including superconductivity, quantum chaos, nanotechnology and neurotechnology. Along with the patents, I also founded two startups, one in nanomedicine and the other in neurotechnology. The two startups have raised about $6 million total. My goal is not just to write academic papers but to create inventions and bring them to the clinic and market-place for the benefit of people and society.

The nanomedicine program at Northeastern is a unique program; how did you start nanomedicine here?

I started the nanomedicine program close to 20 years ago. There’s a vital research component, which has been funded by many grants exceeding $12 million over the years. We also have a unique education program, the first of its kind, and through training grants totaling nearly $10M from NSF and NIH, we established a Nanomedicine Academy partnered with other minority institutions. We developed many courses and have taught hundreds of students, eventually founding the Nanomedicine Graduate Certificate and Master’s degree programs. In this award’s context, one important aspect is that we started a course on innovation, particularly in bio-nano entrepreneurship and commercialization. We’ve taught hundreds of students, many of whom have become inventors and entrepreneurs.

What is it like working with Northeastern for your research and innovation pursuits?

We have an excellent environment for innovation and entrepreneurship at Northeastern. The university actually owns all of these patents as part of its intellectual property portfolio. Postdocs and graduate students are also included as co-inventors. Some of the patents have been tested in patients in the clinic and have contributed to the diagnosis of diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma and kidney disease, and to the treatment of cancer.

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