TAMPA — Few would recognize his name, but many around the world have benefited from the biomedical technologies that came from the mind and the laboratory of Shyam Mohapatra.
The University of South Florida Health professor and career research scientist at Tampa’s James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital was recognized Wednesday night as an inaugural inductee to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. His peers placing him among the ranks of the father of air conditioning and refrigeration, the inventor of Gatorade and the brilliant Thomas Edison.
“It’s really exciting company,” Mohapatra said. “I’m really privileged to be in the first class. Thomas Edison is one of my heroes.”
Mohapatra said he always wanted to be a doctor to save people.
“But if you invent something, medicine that affects millions of lives, it has more impact, and this is what took me away from medicine toward research.”
Mohapatra develops cell-targeted nanoparticles that can deliver drugs, genes and peptides to regulate immune response to inflammatory diseases. His work has contributed to innovations in nanoscale biomedical diagnostics and treatments for cancers, asthma, viral infections and traumatic brain injury.
He is joined in the Hall of Fame by John Gorrie, an Apalachicola doctor who invented the ice-making machine and is considered the father of air conditioning and refrigeration; Robert Cade, a physician who developed Gatorade at the University of Florida; Edison, who tinkered in a lab in Fort Myers, held over 1,000 patents and created the incandescent light bulb and electrical systems to power it; William Glenn, a Florida Atlantic University professor credited with a series of innovations in high resolution imaging technology used by the U.S. space program and the military; and Shin-Tson Wu, professor at the University of Central Florida whose liquid crystal research has had a major impact on display technology.
Of the six, only Mohapatra and Wu are still living and working. The inventors were inducted at a gala at the Palma Ceia Golf & Country Club.
Hall of Fame members will be honored in a walkway in the university’s research park, said Paul Sanberg, senior vice president for research and innovation at USF.
Ultimately, Sanberg said, a separate structure could be identified to serve as a destination for the science and innovation community.