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Hampikian Named National Academy of Inventors Charter Fellow

By: Kathleen Tuck   Published 10:08 am / December 18, 2012

Greg Hampikian, a faculty member with joint appointments in the departments of Biological Sciences and Criminal Justice and director of the Idaho Innocence Project, has been named a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Election to NAI Fellow status is a professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a highly 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 98 innovators elected to NAI fellow status represent 54 universities and nonprofit research institutes. Together, they hold more than 3,200 U.S. patents.

Included in the charter class are eight Nobel Laureates, two fellows of the Royal Society, 12 presidents of research universities and nonprofit research institutes, 50 members of the National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine), 11 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, three recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, four recipients of the National Medal of Science and 29 AAAS Fellows, among other awards and distinctions.

Hampikian is known internationally for his work in DNA forensics, (he played a key role in the exoneration of Amanda Knox, the American college student convicted of the 2007 murder of her roommate in Perugia, Italy). He is the founder of the Idaho Innocence Project at Boise State and helped establish the Georgia Innocence Project and the Irish Innocence Project. He recently published a review of 194 DNA exonerations in the prestigious Annual Review of Genetics and Genomics and is publishing the account of how he and the French police solved a 10-year-old high-profile murder using a new DNA technique never before used on the European continent.

In his Boise State lab, Hampikian and student and faculty collaborators work on diverse DNA projects, including developing new cancer drugs, discovering new species of single-celled organisms in Idaho, studying Basque sex chromosomes and inventing micro devices. Hampikian pioneered the study of nullomers (a term he coined), the smallest sequences of DNA and protein that do not exist in nature. In 2007, New Scientist called these “DNA Too Dangerous to Exist.”

Hampikian’s Boise State patents and applications include a generator using magnetic shape memory alloys, a micropump with no moving parts and 198 Nullomer drug compounds he developed and is patenting that are effective against breast, prostate and leukemic cancer. He also is pursuing a patent for nullomer DNA markers that protect forensic DNA samples from contamination.

The NAI Charter Fellows will be inducted on Feb. 22 by the U.S. Commissioner for Patents, Margaret A. Focarino, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, during the second annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in the University of South Florida Research Park. Fellows will be presented with a special trophy and a rosette pin.

The NAI Charter Fellows will be recognized in a full-page advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Jan. 18, in the January 2013 issue of Inventors Digest, and in a future issue of Technology and Innovation – Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors.

Academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Charter Fellow were nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.

The NAI Fellows Selection Committee comprises 14 members from the National Academies, recipients of National Medals, a National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee and senior officials from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of University Technology Managers, the United Inventors Association and university research leadership.