TAMPA — As it did with its inaugural class last year, the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame has tapped a professor from its home campus of the University of South Florida along with a historical legend for membership in 2015.
The first woman was also named to the Hall — the discoverer of the deadly feline immunodeficiency virus and its vaccine.
Paul Sanberg, USF’s senior vice president for research, innovation and economic development and a professor of neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and business, was recognized for his research into how adult stem cells and some umbilical cord stem cells can be used to repair stroke damage and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“It’s an honor and I really appreciate it, but what I really value is it shines a light on inventors in the state of Florida and how important they are for our state, our economy and for the nation,” Sanberg said.
Sanberg founded the National Academy of Inventors. He serves as president of the hall’s advisory board, but did not participate in the selection process.
The Class of 2015 together holds more than 400 U.S. patents.
Also selected was Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Co., for advancing industrial manufacturing, pioneering automotive technology, and contributing to experimental botanical research. Ford established a rubber test site in Fort Myers with Thomas Edison and conducted aeronautical research in the state on early airplanes and advanced V-8 engines.
Also in the Class of 2015:
♦ Robert Grubbs, a University of Florida graduate and current professor at the California Institute of Technology who received the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His contributions in the field of chemistry have led to the creation of new materials in medicine and the plastics industry.
♦ Robert Holton, a professor of chemistry at Florida State University, who developed the chemical synthesis of Taxol, the anti-cancer drug.
♦ Jerry Pratt, senior research scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, for contributions to robotics and human assistive devices.
♦ Nan-Yao Su, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida, who invented Sentricon, a safer and greener approach to termite control that revolutionized colony elimination.
♦ Janet Yamamoto, a professor of immunology at the University of Florida, for the discovery of the feline immunodeficiency virus, the FIV vaccine, and for furthering research on the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.
Last year, the Hall inducted Shyam Mohapatra, a USF Health professor and career research scientist at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, who pioneered the use of nanoparticles that can deliver drugs, genes and peptides to regulate immune response to inflammatory diseases.
Also on last year’s roster was Edison, who created the incandescent light bulb and electrical system to power it, and held over 1,000 patents. He had a winter home in Fort Myers where he carried out experiments.
Hall of Fame members are honored on a walkway in USF’s research park. Ultimately, a separate structure could be identified to serve as a destination for the science and innovation community, Sanberg said.