Gabriel P. López, vice president for Research and professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at The University of New Mexico has been named a 2016 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The NAI announced today that it has chosen a cohort of 175 inventors from around the world for election as 2016 NAI Fellows.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.  

With the election of the 2016 class there are now 757 NAI Fellows, representing 229 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes. The 2016 Fellows are named inventors on 5,437 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 26,000.

The STC Board of Directors nominated López for the national honor.

“Dr. López was the STC 2016 Innovation Fellow for his achievements in developing a large portfolio of patented biomaterials technologies at UNM that have high economic impact and societal benefit worldwide,” said STC Board Chair Sandra Begay. “He has also developed innovative research programs for faculty and students as the founding director of UNM’s Center for Biomedical Engineering (CBME). The goals of CBME are to improve healthcare and outcomes for New Mexicans and to contribute to the growth of the biotechnology industry in the state of New Mexico by creating biomedical technologies for commercial development and new company formation. We are delighted that Dr. López has received this honor.”

We are excited at the possibilities to come for UNM’s research mission...We are very fortunate to work with such a remarkable inventor. — STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila

López’s main research focus—biomaterials science—pulls from the disciplines of medicine, biology, chemistry, tissue engineering and materials science to create new materials. These are generally materials developed for medical applications or applications in which there is some biological context or interaction with a living system. Biomaterials can be composed of natural substances or synthesized substances, such as polymers, that can be part of or a whole living structure or device that performs or replaces a natural function. Heart value implants, urinary catheters and engineered particles as drug carriers are good examples. 

“Dr. López’s research discoveries, outstanding inventions, and program leadership are all the more remarkable considering the many hats an academic researcher, inventor and administrator must wear,” said STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila. “We are excited at the possibilities to come for UNM’s research mission, its faculty and its students as he leads our efforts to achieve even greater levels of outstanding research and innovation. We are very fortunate to work with such a remarkable inventor and honored that Dr. López has been chosen as a 2016 NAI Fellow.”

In his career as an inventor at UNM, López has used smart polymers to create environmentally friendly, anti-fouling films, and hybrid biomimetic membranes that can separate different sized molecules at the micro- and nanoscale, particularly applicable for microfluidic devices. His technologies are being used to develop innovations in flow cytometers; particle separation for drug discovery, rare cell detection and environmental sensing; and antimicrobial biofilms and coatings for better ways to disinfect surgical instruments, medical devices and filtration systems.

López has published approximately 200 peer reviewed scientific papers and book chapters. He has served as PI or co-PI on grants totaling approximately $46 million and his research has been supported by several sources. He has been granted many awards and honors for his research, including the W. Moulton Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Washington. He was named “One of the 100 Most Important Hispanics in Technology and Business for 2006” by the editors of Hispanic Engineer and Information Technology.

The 2016 Fellows will be inducted on April 6 as part of the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston. U.S. Commissioner for Patents, Andrew H. Hirshfeld will provide the keynote address for the induction ceremony.