Shyam Mohapatra elected one of six inaugural inductees to Florida Inventors Hall of Fame

His inventions yield biomedical products with global impact in infectious diseases and cancer

Tampa, FL  (July 8, 2014)
—  USF Health’s Shyam Mohapatra, PhD, a pioneer of applied biomedical nanotechnology, was among six inventors announced today as the first inductees into the newly established Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.

A Distinguished USF Health Professor and career research scientist at James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital, Dr. Mohapatra develops cell-targeted miniscule biodegradable particles known as nanoparticles to deliver drugs, genes and peptides that regulate immune response to inflammatory diseases.  His research has contributed to innovations in nanoscale biomedical diagnostics and therapeutics for cancers, asthma, viral infections and traumatic brain injury.

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Shyam Mohapatra, PhD

Dr. Mohapatra joins Thomas Edison (1847-1931), the most prolific inventor in U.S. history, and John Gorrie, MD (1803-1855), the father of air conditioning and refrigeration, as members of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.  Other 2014 inductees are Robert Cade, MD (1927-2007), a University of Florida professor who developed the hydrating sports drink Gatorade; William Glenn, PhD (1926-2013), a Florida Atlantic University professor who invented the high-definition camera for NASA; and Shin-Tson Wu, PhD (1953- ), a University of Central Florida professor whose liquid crystal research has widely impacted display technology worldwide.

“We are thrilled to be announcing this charter class of outstanding inventors whose work has had such an impact on the lives of Floridians and the world,” said Paul R. Sanberg, DSc, PhD, chair of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Advisory Board and senior vice president for research and innovation at the University of South Florida, where the Hall of Fame is located.

Dr. Mohapatra has attracted more than $20 million in extramural research funds to USF and his technology inventions have resulted in several spin-out companies.  Since joining the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine in 1996, he has been issued 19 U.S. patents, and has several patents pending. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Dr. Mohapatra’s inventions and discoveries with applications for society include following:

–          He invented intranasal gene transfer technology to help combat respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a potentially lethal respiratory infection that can severely affect infants, young children and the elderly.  Dr. Mohapatra’s approach, using chitosan nanospheres to elicit a local immune response in the airways, has the potential to deliver genes and other therapeutics, including RNA, for a wide range of respiratory viruses.

–          Dr. Mohapatra’s invention of the oligo-adenylate synthatase antiviral technology involving a “wellness gene” has been licensed to Kineta Inc., of Seattle, WA, and the company plans to conduct a Phase I clinical trial in Europe this year. This technology is being used to create a vaccine/treatment against several RNA viral diseases affecting billions of patients world-wide, including hepatitis C, influenza, RSV, and dengue.

–          Working with Dr. Loren Walensky from Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Mohapatra recently demonstrated that nanoparticles could carry designer peptides to the lungs and other organs and boost the capacity of the novel double-stapled peptides to block RSV infection.

–          Dr. Mohapatra co-founded the Tampa-based, nanobiotechnology company TransGenex, which initially licensed technology from USF and has also developed and commercialized its own nanoscale technology platforms, including HIV detection methods.   Research by Dr. Mohapatra led to a rapid HIV-detection kit that provides a diagnosis in 20 seconds.

–          Dr. Mohapatra and Subhra Mohapatra, PhD, of the USF Health Department of Molecular Medicine, invented a nanoscale fiber scaffold, which allows tumor cells to replicate in a laboratory petri dish more like tumors grow in the human body.  In addition to facilitating research using three-dimensional tumors instead of two-dimensional tumor cell cultures, the technology may help address several hurdles in cancer therapeutics, including more effective testing of tumor response to anti-cancer drugs and screening biopsied tumor tissue for personalized cancer treatment.  The work led to the development of a proprietary “Tumor-on-a-dish” platform, which TransGenex is commercializing.

“Dr. Mohapatra has been exceptional in promoting and fostering academic inventions and entrepreneurial opportunities both nationally and internationally,” Phillip Marty, PhD, associate vice president of research at USF Health, wrote in his letter nominating Dr. Mohapatra to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.

The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame, one of only seven state inventors’ halls of fame across the United States, is committed to “honoring inventors and celebrating innovation, discovery and excellence.”

The six inaugural inventors will be honored Sept. 10 at the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Gala in Tampa. For a complete list of the inductees, including photos and biographical information, go to www.floridainvents.org

About USF Health
USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. The University of South Florida is a Top 50 research university in total research expenditures among both public and private institutions nationwide, according to the National Science Foundation. For more information, visit www.health.usf.edu

About Florida Inventors Hall of Fame
The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame (FIHF) recognizes and commends Florida inventors whose achieve­ments have advanced the quality of life for Floridians, the state and the nation. Founded in 2013 and housed at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FIHF was recognized by Florida Senate Resolution 1756 in April of 2014. FIHF encourages individuals of all ages and backgrounds to strive toward the betterment of Florida and society through continuous, groundbreaking innovation, and, by commending the incredible scientific work being accomplished in the state, to further the growth of Florida’s innovation sector.  FloridaInvents.org

Media contact:
Anne DeLotto Baier, USF Health Communications
(813) 974-3303 or abaier@health.usf.edu