Two of the University of Arizona’s most prolific inventors have been elected fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

Dr. Marvin J. Slepian of the UA colleges of Medicine and Engineering and James Wyant, founding dean and professor emeritus of the College of Optical Sciences, will be inducted on April 15 during the annual conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia.

The NAI says fellow status is granted 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.”

Slepian is a professor of medicine and professor and associate department head of biomedical engineering in the UA College of Engineering, as well as a McGuire Scholar in the Eller College of Management, where he teaches an annual course on innovation.

Slepian is a named inventor on 52 issued patents and applications and is a co-founder of SynCardia Systems, which makes the only FDA-approved total artificial heart.

Slepian’s lab has taken a variety of medical concepts to market, such as stents that slowly release drugs, a tissue “paving” polymer to patch arterial holes, stent coatings and tissue sealants, as well as cardiovascular prosthetics including the total artificial heart.

Recently, in collaboration with Tech Launch Arizona — the office of the UA that commercializes inventions stemming from university research — Slepian started the Arizona Center for Accelerated Biomedical Innovation to bring researchers together with experienced innovators to move inventions forward.

Slepian has founded several other medical device companies, including Focal, Hansen Medical, Arsenal, 480 BioMedical and MC10. An elected fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, he is the current president of the International Society for Mechanical Circulatory Support.

Wyant, a professor emeritus of optical sciences and electrical and computer engineering, was the founding dean of the UA College of Optical Sciences in 2005 and served as dean until 2012.

A pioneer in the fields of interferometry and holography, Wyant is a named inventor on 10 patents and has authored more than 300 publications and speeches. He is widely recognized as an expert in the fields of interference, diffraction and optical testing.

Wyant has co-founded a number of companies, including Wyant Measurement Systems, WYKO Corp., and 4D Technology.

WYKO was acquired in 1997 by Veeco Instruments, which spun the business off to Bruker Nano in 2010. The company still makes precision optical measurement instruments in Tucson.

Wyant has received numerous awards, including the Governor’s Award from SPIE (formerly the International Society for Optical Engineering); an R&D 100 Award, the Optical Society of America’s Joseph Fraunhofer Award and the SPIE Gold Medal Award, and he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

The 168 NAI fellows named this year bring the total number to 582, representing more than 190 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions, the UA said.

The honors for Slepian and Wyant come after Roger Angel, professor in the UA colleges of Science and Optical Sciences, was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame on Nov. 18.

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