USF inventors post record patent numbers, ranking in the nation’s top 10 university producers | USFRI News | Research & Innovation | USF

Annual ranking from the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners
Association is a key measure of global innovation.

TAMPA, Fla. (June 15, 2021) – For the ninth consecutive year, University of South Florida inventors are among the
most prolific producers of U.S. patents at universities worldwide, securing an institutional
record 123 patents in 2020.

The tally placed USF at eighth among American public research universities and 15th
among more than 1,000 universities worldwide in generating new, novel and useful inventions
granted intellectual property protection from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2020 report from the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association uses data from USPTO in the previous
calendar year and highlights the vital role patents play not only university research
and innovation, but in the global knowledge economy. Since the NAI/IPO began publishing
its ranking in 2013, USF has been among the top 10 U.S. public universities and top
20 universities worldwide. The full report can be found here.

“The University of South Florida is proud to fuel the vibrancy and strength of the
Tampa Bay regional economy by serving as a research and innovation powerhouse,” said
USF President Steven Currall. “Patent production continues to be an important indicator
of our performance as a top urban research university and vital to our nation’s competitiveness
in today’s global innovation ecosystem.”

USF’s 2020 patents come in new inventions that apply in a wide range of disciplines,
as well as new technologies to advance scientific research itself. USF researchers
built upon already strong portfolios of new inventions in areas such as medical sciences,
robotics, cybersecurity, material sciences and artificial intelligence. While not
every patent becomes a new technology on the market, each new patent advances the
state-of-the-art in its particular field.

The current rankings do not take into account a myriad of COVID-19 related inventions
produced by USF faculty and students in 2020 which gained worldwide acclaim and attention as the pandemic unfolded. Typically, it takes an average of two years after an application
is filed for the patent to be issued.

“USF researchers have become known worldwide for their dedication to finding new ways
of solving old problems and addressing entrenched global challenges,” said David Conrad,
the director of the university’s Technology Transfer Office. “While this ranking is one measure of their achievements, even more significant
to USF’s faculty and student inventors is the potential each new patent holds to save
lives, shape the future, and make our region’s growing knowledge economy even stronger
through the new industries and jobs that flow from innovative ideas.”

Here are some of the highlights of USF’s 2020 patents:

Alya Limayem, an assistant professor at the Taneja College of Pharmacy, and Shyam
Mohapatra, a USF Distinguished Professor in the Morsani College of Medicine, teamed
up to create a new substance to fight drug-resistant bacteria using natural antimicrobial agents that are an alternative
to synthetic chemicals. Chitosan oligomer is a derivative of a material that is taken
from the exoskeleton of crustaceans, such as shrimp and crabs, and is non-toxic and
biodegradable. The most common use of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles is in sunscreen
and ointment as well as in an immune system-boosting supplement. The inventors unexpectedly
found that a formulation of these two substances, at a safe toxicity threshold, is
effective against multi-drug resistant fecal bacteria — including E.coli and E. faecium
— without harming beneficial bacteria. The bacterial strains are a worldwide concern
in food safety and public health, causing millions of cases of food poisoning and
resulting in tens of thousands of deaths with vulnerable children and the elderly
with weakened immune systems at most risk. Together, ZnO with chitosan also has an
antimicrobial effect on a broad spectrum of multidrug resistant bacteria, fungi, and
even viruses including COVID-19, their latest research shows.

Endometriosis is a gynecological disease that affects women of reproductive age and
produces debilitating pain, infertility, and a risk of developing rare types of ovarian
tumors. Treatment for endometriosis usually involves medication, hormone therapy or
surgery — but often women with the condition undergo multiple treatments and surgeries
that do not resolve the condition or its life-altering symptoms. Meera Nanjudan, an
associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular
Biology, specializes in research involving women’s health issues with few effective
treatments. Collaborating with USF PhD alum Kyle Bauckman and Idhaliz Flores of Ponce
Health Sciences University, the team developed methods of diagnosis, treating and
preventing endometriosis at the cellular level. Their patented approach targets endometrial
cell survival with the use of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which drew
global attention last year as a potential but failed treatment for COVID-19.

“The institutions included in this year’s report are leading innovation worldwide
through their encouragement of academic discovery and invention,” said Paul R. Sanberg,
president of the NAI. “We are proud to collaborate with the IPO for the ninth consecutive
year to highlight universities that have made critical contributions to society.” 

The latest rankings further bolster Florida as a thriving center of innovation. The
Florida High Tech Corridor region — which encompasses USF, the University of Central
Florida and University of Florida — together were awarded 309 U.S. utility patents
in 202, more than 1.5 times the number of patents granted to other globally recognized
centers of innovation, including North Carolina’s Research Triangle and the University
of Texas System.

 “This achievement by The Corridor Council’s three universities demonstrates the strength
of Florida’s innovation ecosystem and its role as a catalyst for statewide economic
growth,” said Corridor CEO Paul Sohl.

About the University of South Florida 

The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated
to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country
has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than
USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee,
USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of
Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities.
USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented
minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher
income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at

About the National Academy of Inventors

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental
and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and
Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize
and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure
of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the
inventions of its members to benefit society. The NAI works collaboratively with the
USPTO and publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation.

About the IPO

The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) is a trade association for owners of patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.
IPO is the only association in the U.S. that serves and advocates for all intellectual
property owners in all industries and all fields of technology.