Dimitri Krainc, MD, PhD, and Shana Kelley, PhD, have been named 2023 fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).
NAI fellow status is the highest professional distinction awarded solely to academic inventors. The program recognizes academic inventors who have demonstrated a “spirit of innovation” by creating or facilitating inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and social welfare.
Kelley and Krainc are among 162 new fellows in the 2023 class, which represents 118 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions worldwide. The 2023 class collectively holds more than 4,600 issued U.S. patents.
Krainc was selected based on his groundbreaking research in the field of neurodegenerative disorders, which has resulted in more than 30 patents for innovative therapies targeting Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to join such an esteemed group of inventors across different fields of science and technology,” Krainc said. “I am very grateful to many wonderful colleagues, trainees and collaborators that I have worked with over the years. This recognition is a tribute to them as well.”
Krainc’s research focuses on defining key molecular pathways in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration with a goal of uncovering targets for therapeutic development. His group uncovered convergent mechanisms of lysosomal, mitochondrial and synaptic dysfunction in patient-derived neurons, highlighting the importance of studying human neurons in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. The Krainc laboratory has developed targeted therapeutic approaches for Parkinson’s disease that are currently in clinical trials.
“It has been very rewarding to be able to advance our lab-based discoveries to clinical trials that will hopefully result in new treatments for patients with Parkinson’s disease and related disorders,” Krainc said.
Based on his discoveries, Krainc founded two biotech companies, including Vanqua Bio in Chicago.
“By creating a biotech company in Chicago a few years ago, we hoped to contribute to a growing trend of biotech startups in our great city,” Krainc said.
His contributions to the field have been recognized by many awards and distinctions, including a National Institutes of Health Outstanding Investigator Award and the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award.
Shana O. Kelley, PhD, is the Neena B. Schwartz Professor of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering at Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the McCormick School of Engineering, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Chicago.
The Kelley laboratories develop new bioanalytical technologies for measuring molecules and cells with high levels of sensitivity and precision. The work has resulted in the development of new diagnostic tools as well as therapeutic approaches.
“I am incredibly honored to be recognized by the National Academy of Inventors and am very appreciative for the efforts of past and present team members who have contributed to our efforts,” Kelley said.
Kelley is the founder of four life sciences startups (GeneOhm Sciences, acquired by Becton Dickinson; Xagenic Inc., acquired by General Atomics; Arma Biosciences, founded in 2020; and CTRL Therapeutics, founded in 2022. She is an inventor on more than 50 patents. Kelley is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, a Guggenheim fellow and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.