Board of Directors

Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., President

Paul Sanberg Innovation & Knowledge Enterprise Executive Director, Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair Distinguished University Professor University of South Florida Dr. Paul R. Sanberg is president and founder of NAI. He is the former senior vice president for research, innovation and knowledge enterprise at University of South Florida, and currently Distinguished University Professor of medicine, engineering, and business, and executive director of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair. His innovations have been instrumental in translating new pharmaceutical and cellular therapeutics to clinical trials and commercialization for Tourette syndrome, stroke, ALS, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease. He is an inventor on 167 U.S. and international patents; author of over 700 scientific articles and 14 books, with about 40,000 citations. He has served on editorial boards for numerous scientific journals, is editor-in-chief of NAI’s journal Technology and Innovation, and has received numerous scientific awards, including the AIMBE Advocate Award; Australian Alumni Award (ANU); Bryden Alumni Award (York U); Fulbright Specialist; McGovern Science & Society Award (Sigma Xi); Ove Ferno Prize; Florida Academy of Sciences Medalist; Florida Inventors Hall of Fame inductee; Fellow of AAAS, ACNP, AIMBE, BMES, IEEE, Sigma Xi, the Royal Societies of the Arts, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine and Public Health; and AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador. He served twice on the nomination evaluation committee for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation; and advisory board for the APLU Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity. He was the first in his family to graduate college, and has been a master flight instructor and airplane enthusiast most of his adult life. He was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He is a Charter Fellow of NAI.

Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., FNAI, Vice President 

Howard Federoff President, Director, and CEO Brooklyn ImmunoTherapeutics Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Following clinical training in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology/Metabolism and a post-doctoral fellowship in molecular neurobiology at Harvard Medical School’s Massachusetts General Hospital he joined the faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In 1995 he joined the University of Rochester faculty. During his tenure at Rochester, he founded the Division of Molecular Medicine and Gene Therapy, the Center for Aging and Development and also served as Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research. In 2007 he joined the Georgetown University Medical Centers as Executive Vice President of Health Sciences and Executive Dean for the School of Medicine. His research is on novel treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. He serves on four editorial boards, two foundation boards, has chaired NIH Study Sections, was a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, was a member of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Scientific Advisory Committee, Co-Chaired the NINDS strategic planning process, and was Chair of the NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee. He has published numerous papers, chapters and editorials and received a number of awards including the Arthur Kornberg Research Award, Society for Neuroscience Grass Lectureship, Abreu Memorial Lectureship, induction into Alpha Omega Alpha, Bernard Sandberg Award, and election to the AAAS. He has co-founded two biotechnology start-up companies and has been awarded numerous patents. He and his wife Wendy Solovay, an immigration attorney, reside in Irvine California. Their two daughters, Allison and Monica, are pursuing careers in law and medicine, respectively. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Sudeep Sarkar, Ph.D., FNAI, Treasurer

Sudeep SarkarChair and Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering Associate Vice-President for I-CORPS Programs University of South Florida Sudeep Sarkar, Ph.D., is a professor of computer science and engineering and is the associate vice president for research & innovation at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering, on a University Presidential Fellowship, from The Ohio State University. He is the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 1994, USF Teaching Incentive Program Award for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence in 1997, Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1998, and Theodore and Venette Askounes-Ashford Distinguished Scholar Award in 2004. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and International Association for Pattern Recognition (IAPR), and a charter member of the National Academy of Inventors. He has 25 year expertise in computer vision and pattern recognition algorithms and systems, and holds three U.S. patents and has published high-impact journal and conference papers.

Karen J.L. Burg, Ph.D., FNAI

Karen J.L. Burg Vice President for Research, Harbor Lights Endowed Chair, Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery University of Georgia AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador Karen J.L. Burg, Ph.D. was named Vice President for Research in 2021. She holds the Harbor Lights Chair in Small Animal Studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia (UGA). Prior to joining UGA, she served as vice president for research and professor of chemical engineering at Kansas State University. Honors to Karen include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the inaugural Swiss AO Research Prize, recognition as a Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s TR100 Young Innovator, an American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Fellow, an American Council on Education Fellow, an International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering Fellow, a Biomedical Engineering Society Fellow, a U.S. Department of Defense Era of Hope Scholar, and an American Association for the Advancement of Science-Lemelson Invention Ambassador. Karen has given over 200 invited presentations and authored over 140 peer reviewed publications on the subject of engineered tissues. She has seven patents issued, fifteen disclosures and/or provisional patent applications recorded, with one patent serving as the basis for a diagnostics company. A Burg invention was one of ten technologies featured in the inaugural Avon Foundation for Women – National Institutes of Health – Center for Advancing Innovation Breast Cancer Start-Up Challenge. Karen served as the principal investigator for the 2015 National Science Foundation Innovation-Corps L (NSF I-Corps L) Team Flipped Research Mentoring and is a member of the 2016 NSF I-Corps L teaching team.

Pierre Comizzoli, Ph.D., D.V.M.

Research Biologist Center for Species Survival D.V.M., Veterinary College of Alfort; M.S., Université de Paris VI ; Ph.D., Université de Tours Pierre Comizzoli Ph.D., D.V.M. is a scientist at the Smithsonian Institution and Senior Program Officer for Science in the Office of the Under-Secretary of Science and Research. He began his career as a veterinarian in French Guyana studying the seasonal reproduction of different mammalian species. In 2002 he joined the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at Washington, DC ‘s National Zoological Park as a staff scientist developing cryo-banking on gametes and gonadal tissues from rare and endangered species. In addition to 15 years of studies funded by National Institutes of Health grants, Dr. Comizzoli has published over 120 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, He has also received several distinguished awards including the Smithsonian Secretary’s Research Prize and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for his innovative work on fertility preservation. More recently, he has received the Innovation Award from the National Research Council of Thailand with his Thai colleagues.

Elizabeth Lea Dougherty, J.D., Ex Officio

Elizabeth Dougherty Eastern Region Outreach Director Office of the Under Secretary and Director  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Elizabeth Dougherty is the Director of Inventor Education, Outreach, and Recognition in the Office of Innovation Development at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In this capacity, she develops, implements and supervises programs that support the independent inventor community, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and the intellectual property interests of colleges and universities; she supervises the development of outreach programs to women, minority and other underserved communities; she also builds and maintains relationships with state and local governments to promote local programs that support invention and innovation in the United States. Ms. Dougherty has spearheaded a number of special projects with such organizations and oversees a portfolio of ongoing and future initiatives designed to assist independent inventors, entrepreneurs, and minorities.

Robert V. Duncan, Ph.D., FNAI

Robert V. Duncan Current President’s Distinguished Chair in Physics  Former Vice Chancellor for Research at University of Missouri Former Senior Vice President for Research at Texas Tech Texas Tech University Robert V. Duncan, Ph.D., is the Current President’s Distinguished Chair in Physics at Texas Tech University (TTU). He formerly served as vice chancellor for research at the University of Missouri (MU). He was the Gordon and Betty Moore Distinguished Scholar in the Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy at Caltech in 2004–2005. He has published extensively in low-temperature physics, and he chaired a panel of the National Academy of Sciences on the Future of Fundamental Physics in Space in 2011. He holds 10 U.S. patents with multiple international filings. In 2004, Duncan co-invented a less-invasive type of percutaneous and intravascular cryosurgery that is currently in human clinical trials and which is based upon a genuinely new cryogenic technology. As an administrator, Duncan has supported innovation broadly within academia, and has started new student entrepreneurial programs at both TTU and MU. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., FNAI

Cato T. Laurencin University Professor & Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery University of Connecticut NAI Fellow Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. is the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Connecticut. A surgeon-engineer-scientist, he is Professor of Chemical, Materials, and Biomedical Engineering at UConn. He serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering, at UConn Health. He earned his B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, his M.D., Magna Cum Laude, from the Harvard Medical School, and his Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Laurencin has produced seminal research and technologies on nanotechnology and tissue regeneration, polymer/ceramic systems for bone regeneration, and biomaterials for soft tissue regeneration. Dr. Laurencin is a pioneer of the field of Regenerative Engineering. He received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, and the National Science Foundation’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Grant Award for this field. For his work he has received singular honors including the American Association for the Advancement of Science Philip Hauge Abelson Prize given ‘for signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States’, the Simon Ramo Founder’s Award from the National Academy of Engineering and the Walsh McDermott Prize from the National Academy of Medicine. He is the first in history to win all three of these awards. Dr. Laurencin is a world leader in invention and innovation, and he is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, America’s highest award for technological achievement, award by President Barack Obama in ceremonies at the White House.

Anna M. Leese de Escobar, FNAI, Ex Officio

Distinguished Senior Scientist of Cryogenic Electronics Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC) Anna M. Leese de Escobar has a 30-year career in experimental physics research, cryogenic and superconducting materials and devices for electromagnetic systems and founded the Cryogenic Exploitation of Radio Frequency (CERF) Laboratory. She is a recipient of SSC Pacific’s Exemplary Achievement Award and its highest award, the Lauritsen-Bennett Award for Excellence in Science, the U.S. Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award, SPAWAR Team Innovation Award and two Federal Laboratory Consortium Awards for Technology Transfer. She is author of 40 publications with over 255 citations, 18 U.S. patents issued or pending and 26 additional patent applications in process. Three of her inventions have been commercially licensed. She is senior member of IEEE and deputy chair of the SSC Pacific NAI Chapter. Escobar is a board member and chair of the U.S. Committee for Superconducting Electronics, and sits on the board for the Applied Superconductivity Conference.

Paul Rosenthal, Ex Officio

Paul Rosenthal Deputy Chief Communications Officer U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Paul Rosenthal is the Deputy Chief Communications Officer of the USPTO. He is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic communications for the USPTO in coordination with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the White House, and he supports and advises the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. He directs a team of media relations, speechwriting, social media, public affairs and audio-visual design professionals focused on promoting the agency’s goals and objectives. He also oversees the USPTO’s partnership with the National Inventors Hall of Fame and management of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, which is issued by the president in a ceremony at the White House. With more than 30 years’ experience in the communications field, Mr. Rosenthal joined the USPTO in 2010 and was charged with developing and growing the agency’s social media presence and improving agency outreach through online means. He was promoted to his role in 2013. Prior to joining the USPTO, Mr. Rosenthal worked for the Smithsonian Institution, as a Public Affairs Specialist for the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History and as Web Content Manager at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He has additional related experience from the United States Postal Service and from non-profit organizations. He is a former broadcast news journalist. Mr. Rosenthal earned a bachelor’s degree in public communication from The College of Saint Rose.

Kalliat Valsaraj, Ph.D., FNAI

Kalliat Valsaraj Charles & Hilda Roddey Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering Former Vice President for Research & Economic Development Louisiana State University Kalliat Valsaraj is LSU’s Vice President for Research & Economic Development, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Distinguished Professor in Chemical Engineering and Ike East Professor in Chemical Engineering. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the National Academy of Inventors. In 2011 he was awarded the LSU Distinguished Research Master award. The professional societies of AIChE and ACS (American Chemical Society) awarded him the Charles E Coates award in 2012. He received the M.Sc. in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1980 and Ph.D. in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1983. After a brief stint at the Arkansas Engineering Experiment Station of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, he joined LSU in 1986 as a research associate. He later became a regular faculty in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering and progressed through the ranks to a tenured full professor. He served as the Department Chair from 2005 to 2011. He has also provided service as a member of the Faculty Senate, Chair of the College of Engineering Policy Committee, and several other committees during his 32 years of service to LSU. His research area is in environmental chemical engineering. He has published over 200 referred papers, several books, holds two patents and has made over 300 research presentations worldwide.

Past NAI Board of Directors Members