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Two elected to the National Academy of Inventors

Engineer Roozbeh Ghaffari and pharmacologist Daniel Martin Watterson are recognized for their contributions to innovation
Fellows are elected to the National Academy of Inventors by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development and welfare of society. Photo by Skye Studios on Unsplash

Northwestern University’s Roozbeh Ghaffari and Daniel Martin Watterson have been named 2022 fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Fellows are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development and welfare of society. Election as an NAI fellow is the highest professional distinction awarded to academic inventors.

This year’s class of fellows will be inducted on June 27, 2023, at the 12th annual meeting of the NAI held in Washington, D.C.

Ghaffari and Watterson are among 169 2022 fellows hailing from 110 research universities, governmental and non-profit research institutes.

Roozbeh Ghaffari is a research associate professor of biomedical engineering and the director of translational research at the Querrey Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics at Northwestern. Ghaffari is a pioneer in the research and translation of soft microfluidic and bio-integrated systems. His contributions in soft bioelectronics and wearable biosensors have been recognized with multiple awards and over 60 patents. These translational efforts have led to multiple disruptive products in the wearables sector, including the BioStamp, Gx Sweat Patch and Connected Hydration.

Ghaffari currently serves as co-founder and CEO of Epicore Biosystems, which developed a new category of wearable microfluidic devices that track sweat non-invasively to manage performance and health. Epicore Biosystems has launched multiple microfluidic-enabled wearable products and has partnerships with leading Fortune 50 corporations like PepsiCo and Chevron Corp.

Ghaffari has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and is an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Materials Research Society and the American Chemical Society.

“Translational research in the biosensor and microfluidic fields of research have played a critical role in remote healthcare and point-of-care diagnostics,” Ghaffari said. “I’m deeply honored that our translational research and commercialization efforts at Northwestern and Epicore Biosystems have been recognized with this election into the 2022 NAI class of fellows.”

Daniel Martin Watterson is the John G. Searle Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a professor of pharmacology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Watterson is best known for the elucidation of signal transduction pathways in eukaryotic cells that are involved in both health resilience and disease susceptibility. Information about these pathways has implications for potential new therapeutic approaches in tumor biology, intestinal disorders and various neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Watterson’s laboratory is currently researching how to further optimize three distinct small molecules that are now in clinical trials for neurologic disorders, in the preclinical development phase of a novel candidate for potential use in depressive disorders and being validated as a potential treatment in tissue barrier dysfunctions common among gastrointestinal and pulmonary disorders.

Watterson holds 39 patents and has been recognized for his innovations in neurologic drug discovery through awards such as the Melvin R. Goodes prize for Excellence in Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery and the Elan Award for Novel Approaches to Drug Discovery for Alzheimer’s Disease. He is a member of several professional societies, including the Society for Neuroscience, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the American Chemical Society.

“I am humbled and honored,” Watterson said. “I thank my colleagues for their support and wish to acknowledge the contributions by outstanding collaborators and former students over the years.”

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