SINGAPORE: Professor Jackie Ying, the executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), has become the first Singapore-based researcher to be named a fellow of the prestigious US National Academy of Inventors (NAI), A*STAR announced in a statement on Wednesday (Dec 13).
The recognition from NAI is considered the highest accolade given 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 welfare of society.
Prof Ying was selected for her outstanding contributions to innovative discovery and technology, patent inventions and licensing, significant impact on society as well as support and enhancement of innovation, A*STAR said.
“It is a great honour to be named a fellow of the US National Academy of Inventors,” said Prof Ying.
“Having gone to the same college as Thomas Edison, I was always inspired to be an inventor. To be able to make a societal impact through technological breakthroughs and innovations is the most exciting aspect of research."
Prof Ying holds more than 180 primary patents and patent applications, with 32 of those licensed to multinational and start-up companies for a diverse range of applications in nanomedicine, drug delivery, cell and tissue engineering, medical implants, biosensors, medical devices, diagnostics, drug screening, catalysis and battery.
Her inventions have led to the founding of 11 spin-offs, one of which she co-founded a technology platform that is capable of auto-regulating the release of insulin therapeutic depending on the blood glucose levels.
The company was bought by Merck in 2010 for S$676 million (US$500 million) for further development.
Prof Ying, who has US citizenship, was hired 15 years ago to Singapore to develop the biotechnology sector and has taken on the role of Executive Director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at A*STAR.
“Prof Ying has amassed an incredible record of scientific contributions that she has converted to important inventions and then to significant new commercial ventures," said Professor Kenneth Smith, Chair of IBN's Scientific Advisory Board.
"This talent was evident during her career as a faculty member at MIT but it has truly flowered since she assumed the role of Executive Director of IBN in Singapore."
He added: "When she arrived, the Singaporean economy was not particularly entrepreneurial, but 13 new start-up companies have since been successfully spun out of IBN, and this achievement now serves as a role model for other research institutes and for other aspiring inventors."