Two More UArizona Faculty Named to National Academy of Inventors

Monday, December 9, 2019
Victor Hruby and Hong Hua. Photos: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona

Victor Hruby and Hong Hua. Photos: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. – University of Arizona inventors Professor Hong Hua of the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, and Dr. Victor Hruby, Regents Professor Emeritus at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the College of Science and the College of Medicine – Tucson and a member of the BIO5 Institute,­ have been elected as Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction 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.

The two join a growing list of UArizona inventors who have achieved the honor, including Roger Angel, Harrison Barrett, Nasser Peyghambarian, Marvin Slepian, James C. Wyant, Gholam Peyman, Frederic Zenhausern and Thomas Koch. Dr. Hua is the first woman from UArizona to be selected for the honor.

Hong Hua, Ph.D.

Dr. Hua is a leading researcher in the area of augmented reality systems, and in particular, in the optical designs for such systems. Her innovative designs and design methods have pushed the level of sophistication for head mounted displays in terms of resolution, field of view, accurate 3D depth perception, rendering speed, and mitigation of the accommodation/convergence conflict, a problem that has hobbled the adoption of 3D augmented vision systems.

Dr. Hua is also a leader in the field of free form optics and head mounted display systems, and is spearheading solving the vergence/accommodation conflict, which arises from elements of head mounted displays that do not properly provide cues to the eye for focusing on near and far distances. As a result of the exceptional quality of her designs, and novel design methodologies, more than a dozen of her technologies have been licensed for commercialization. In one case, her inventions – licensed to eSight – are helping legally blind and low-vision people to see by use of a camera paired with the head mounted display system.

Dr. Hua has graduated seven PhD and eight masters of science students, all of whom have benefited from her training, and has taught hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students. Most of those she has mentored have been hired by Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Facebook (formerly Oculus).

Unofficially, her students refer to her as “the Master” because of her preeminence in the field of head mounted display systems.

“Achieving this honor is not only a professional distinction to me,” she said, “but also a special inspiration that keeps me to continue the pursuit of making tangible impacts on quality of life and nurture the minds of innovation among students through academic mentoring.”

Dr. Victor Hruby

Dr. Hruby is a pioneer and world leader in peptide research, focusing primarily on the chemistry, conformation-biological activity relationships and molecular mechanisms of information transduction and of biological functions associated with peptide hormones and neurotransmitters and their receptors that modulate health, disease and human behavior.

Dr. Hruby’s dedication is not only to answering challenging research questions; he has worked to translate those discoveries to the public via IP protection and commercial pathways. He holds more than 50 issued patents; including pending patents, 86 have been licensed. Intellectual property he has developed has been licensed to Selectide Corporation, which he co-founded and is now part of Sanofi Aventis; Melanotan Corporation (now Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals): and three startups. Additionally, his work was instrumental in the commercialization of α-melanotropin compounds, which have been used worldwide to discover novel compounds related to obesity/anorexia, cardiovascular activities, immune response, pain, temperature control, learning and sexual function.

Dr. Hruby has long dedicated his career to teaching others, serving as an instructor and professor since the early days of his career in 1965 at Cornell University Medical College. He has consistently taught since then.

“This is a great honor for an academic inventor. It reflects the tremendous talent and accomplishment of the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students who have been members of my research group over the years,” said Dr. Hruby. “I have collaborated with many other professors and their students worldwide as well as here at the U of A in many areas of science and medicine who have provided unparalleled breadth and depth to our research and inventions. I am truly blessed to collaborate and work with all of these people from around the world.”

About the National Academy of Inventors

The 2019 Fellows represent 135 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide and collectively hold over 3,500 issued U.S. patents. Among the 2019 Fellows are six recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology & Innovation or U.S. National Medal of Science and four Nobel Laureates, as well as other honors and distinctions. Their collective body of research covers a range of scientific disciplines including neurobehavioral sciences, horticulture, photonics and nanomedicine.

With the election of the 2019 class, there are now 1,228 NAI Fellows worldwide, representing more than 250 prestigious universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes. Collectively, the Fellows hold more than 41,500 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 11,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, over $1.6 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), 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 NAI has a close collaborative relationship with the USPTO and is one of three honorific organizations, along with the National Medals and National Inventors Hall of Fame, working closely with the USPTO on many discovery and innovation support initiatives.

Paul Tumarkin