Campus News

Michael Dirr, Robert Ivarie named NAI Fellows

Michael A. Dirr

The National Academy of Inventors named two emeritus UGA faculty members to the 2014 class of NAI Fellows.

Michael A. Dirr, emeritus professor of horticulture, and Robert Ivarie, emeritus ­professor of genetics, joined 414 innovators representing more than 150 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

Dirr is responsible for introducing more than 150 new plants into the horticulture trade, with approximately 50 of them receiving U.S. plant patents. His advancement of the genera of crape myrtle, viburnum, elm, oak, gardenia, loropetalum and distylium has improved these plants and made them more accessible to the gardening public.

His signature contribution is the development of hydrangea cultivars with the ability to bloom multiple times throughout the growing season.

Ivarie’s research produced a portfolio of inventions to genetically engineer chickens as bioreactors for the efficient production of proteins for human therapeutic use. His inventions are now the basis for a platform technology covered by 19 issued U.S. patents and foreign counterparts, along with additional pending patent applications.

Ivarie, now retired, used the portfolio of technologies as the basis for the formation of a biotechnology company, which focuses on developing new therapeutics for very rare diseases.