Campus News

Two faculty named National Academy of Inventors Fellows

David Chu

The National Academy of Inventors has named two UGA faculty members to the 2015 class of NAI Fellows.

Chung K. “David” Chu, a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in the College of Pharmacy, and Wayne Hanna, a professor of crop and soil sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, join an elite group of 582 innovators representing more than 190 prestigious 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 quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Five UGA faculty members have been named NAI Fellows since the honor was established in 2013.

“The election of David Chu and Wayne Hanna as NAI Fellows highlights the innovative research conducted at UGA,” said David Lee, vice president for research. “We join NAI in celebrating their contributions to science and society.”

Chu is a former faculty member in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences department. His research focuses on nucleoside and carbohydrate chemistry, antiviral chemotherapy, cancer chemotherapy, structure-based drug design and molecular modeling, and antiviral drug discovery for bioterrorism. His antiviral drug clevudine, marketed under the trade names Levovir and Revovir, is used in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B infections in South Korea and the Philippines.

“Dr. Chu is one of the most prolific and productive inventors at the University of Georgia,” Lee said. “His work has led to dozens of inventions and patents, and his development of clevudine has improved the lives of countless individuals suffering from hepatitis B.”

Chu is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the NIH Merit Award, the UGA Inventor of the Year Award and the John A. Montgomery Award, which is given biannually to an outstanding scientist in recognition of a contribution that results in significant advances in chemotherapy.

Chu holds 63 U.S. patents and more than 130 international patents that have been licensed to 10 companies. He is a co-founder of both Pharmasset, which was acquired by Gilead for $11 billion in 2011, and, more recently, he co-founded Atea Pharmaceuticals to explore novel antiviral therapeutics.

Although officially retired, Chu maintains an active research program on drug synthesis and is currently developing treatments for hepatitis B and C infections.

Hanna is world-renowned, especially for his development of superior, sterile, warm-season bermudagrass cultivars bearing the prefix name “Tif,” an homage to the location of his decades of research and trials: UGA’s Tifton campus in south Georgia. The term “Tif” is recognized in the turfgrass industry worldwide as a symbol of quality.

“Wayne Hanna’s career could be considered a success based on numbers alone,” said Derek Eberhart, director of UGA’s Innovation Gateway, citing Hanna’s 16 issued and three pending patent applications; 17 trademarks registered for plant cultivar names worldwide; three issued foreign patents; six Plant Variety Protection certificates; and more than 230 intellectual property agreements related to his cultivars.

Hanna’s patented plants have generated more than $7 million in gross license revenue plus another $3 million from plants protected by PVP certificates.