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Guangping Gao named 2017 fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

UMass Chan professor joins ranks of NAI innovators for his discoveries related to AAV gene therapy

  Guangping Gao, PhD

Guangping Gao, PhD

Guangping Gao, PhD, a global leader in the field of adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy, has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Dr. Gao, the Penelope Booth Rockwell Chair in Biomedical Research, professor of microbiology & physiological systems, founding director of the Horae Gene Therapy Center & Vector Core and co-director of LI Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research, was chosen for induction for having demonstrated a “highly 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.”

Gao, who is joined by 154 other esteemed innovators and inventors who were also awarded the distinction of fellow this year by the NAI, said the recognition acknowledges not only his contribution to science, technology and transformative medicine, but also of the growing importance of gene and cell therapy research and of the UMMS commitment to innovation.

“I am proud that I am part of the field of gene and cell therapy and part of this world-renowned institution. UMass Medical School and our dedicated faculty are developing innovative therapies, gaining greater understanding of disease and always focusing on the patient. This work will change the ability to care for and the quality of care given to patients who are currently untreatable,” Gao said. 

Gao has played a key role in the discovery and characterization of new AAV serotypes. He collaborates on translational research here and abroad as scientific director of the UMMS-China Translational Research Initiative. The Gene Therapy Center explores the promise of AAV vectors for treating a wide range of genetic diseases. The Gao lab focuses on AAV vector mediated in vivo gene transfer for gene therapy in general, and gene therapy of inherited neurodegenerative Canavan Disease in particular.

The 2017 fellows are named inventors on nearly 6,000 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 32,000 issued U.S. patents. With the election of the 2017 class, there are now 912 NAI fellows representing over 250 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes, including six from UMMS.

NAI fellows from UMass Medical School include: Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Gretchen Stone Cook Professor of Biomedical Sciences and chair and professor of RNA therapeutics; Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and chair and professor of neurology; Roger J. Davis, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the H. Arthur Smith Chair in Cancer Research and professor of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology; Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and distinguished professor of RNA therapeutics; and John E. Ware, PhD, professor of quantitative health sciences.

The NAI was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.

The 2017 Fellows Induction Ceremony will be held on April 5, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

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Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, named 2014 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors