Vijay Kumar of Penn Engineering and Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman of the Perelman School of Medicine were named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The NAI Fellows Program is considered the highest professional distinction awarded to academic inventors. It recognizes academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in developing inventions that have positively impacted the quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.
Vijay Kumar, PhD, is the Nemirovsky Family Dean of Penn Engineering. He has appointments in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Computer and Information Science, and Electrical and Systems Engineering. His robotics research has informed the creation of autonomous ground and aerial robots for first response, precision farming, and search and rescue. Additionally, Kumar holds seven U.S. patents and is also the founder of Exyn Technologies, an advisor to Treeswift, and on the board of WeRobotics and O2Micro.
Katalin Karikó, PhD, is an adjunct professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine, who is recognized for her foundational mRNA vaccine research with Drew Weissman that led to the first two FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines.
Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, is the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research and director of the Penn Institute for RNA Innovation in Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine. He is recognized for his work alongside Katalin Karikó in discovering the modified mRNA technology that has been used in both the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Weissman’s current research is focused on developing a pan-coronavirus vaccine, a universal flu vaccine, cancer therapeutics, and a vaccine to prevent herpes. Weissman is also a co-founder of Capstan Therapeutics, a Penn spinout focused on combining the groundbreaking chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapies with mRNA technology.
To learn more about these outstanding Penn researchers and read the full list of 2022 National Academy of Inventors, go here.