Three faculty members from Duke's department of biomedical engineering were named to the National Academy of Inventors’ 2017 class of fellows.

Joseph Izatt, Michael J. Fitzpatrick professor of engineering, Nimmi Ramanujam, Robert W. Carr, Jr. professor of biomedical engineering, and Tuan Vo-Dinh, R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson professor of biomedical engineering, received the honor Dec. 12. 

According to the organization, NAI Fellow status is a professional distinction given to academic inventors with “a prolific spirit of innovation." The program began in 2012 and there are 912 fellows total, with a median of 20 patents held per person. There have been eight fellows at Duke named before 2017, including Nobel laureates Robert Lefkowitz, James B. Duke professor of medicine, in 2015 and Paul Modrich, James B. Duke professor of biochemistry, in 2016.

In addition to being a professor in the Pratt School of Engineering, Joseph Izatt is a professor of ophthalmology. He is also director of the Biophonotics Group, which researches the use of light to clearly and non-invasively image living tissues.

Since joining Duke in 2005, Ramanujam has built up the Tissue Optical Spectroscopy Laboratory, which develops optical technologies targeting key issues in cancer, including cancer-screening in limited-resource settings.

Beyond her work pioneering tools in biomedical research, Ramanujam founded the Global Women’s Health Technologies Center in 2013 with the goal of increasing research, training and education in women’s diseases, and increasing retention of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM.

Vo-Dinh’s research interests are primarily centered on developing advanced photonic technologies for human health and environmental protection applications.