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April 10, 2017 - Piazza inducted as Fellow at 2017 NAI Conference

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USA Mitchell Cancer Institute researcher Gary A. Piazza, Ph.D., joined an elite group of academic inventors on April 6, 2017, when he was inducted as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in Boston.

Piazza was one of 175 members inducted world-wide and the first-ever Fellow from the University of South Alabama. “It was a great honor to represent USA and MCI in receiving an award for innovative research from the National Academy of Inventors,” Piazza said.

Piazza holds more than 70 issued or pending patents that have been licensed or assigned to multiple companies and universities, including ADT Pharmaceuticals Inc., a company he co-founded with the mission of anti-cancer development therapeutics.

For his most recent patent application, Piazza teamed up with entrepreneur Herbert Weissbach, Ph.D., of Florida Atlantic University to patent a group of compounds that protect normal cells from oxidative damage and have potential anti-aging benefits, for example, for the treatment of macular degeneration or other disorders associated with  the normal aging process. “This is an example of a scientific discovery resulting from a collaborative research project between investigators from two different universities,” he said.

Piazza has also filed a series of patent applications describing a novel group of compounds that inhibit the RAS oncoprotein, which is considered a culprit in the most aggressive cancers and which are resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. These patents have been assigned to ADT Pharmaceuticals in which the compounds are currently in the pre-clinical drug development stage, and hold promise for the treatment of pancreatic, lung and colorectal cancers, he said.

Piazza came to MCI in 2011 from the Southern Research Institute and is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, with postdoctoral training from Fox Chase Cancer Center and Brown University.

NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors and is based upon a nominee’s patent portfolio. There are a total of 757 Fellows representing 229 research universities, and governmental and nonprofit research institutes around the world. Among them are inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Nobel Laureates, and recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and U.S. National Medal of Science.

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