2 Rutgers professors named 2023 fellows of National Academy of Inventors

Fred Russell Kramer, Patrick Sinko earn distinction for health science advancement

Two Rutgers University professors were named 2023 fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, an honor recognizing individuals for their contributions to major advancements in science and consumer technologies.

Fred Russell Kramer, professor of microbiology, biochemistry and molecular genetics and associate director of public health research for business development at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and Patrick Sinko, distinguished professor of pharmaceutics and Parke-Davis Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery at Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, were among the 162 academic inventors in 35 states and 10 nations to receive the highest professional distinction awarded solely to inventors.

Kramer and his colleagues invented molecular beacon probes, which identify different genes that might be present in a clinical sample. These probes are used throughout the world in dozens of different widely used clinical diagnostic tests, including assays for tuberculosis, the AIDS virus, the COVID-19 virus and the presence of bacteria in mothers who are about to give birth, enabling the injection of antibiotics that prevent babies from developing meningitis.

Kramer’s laboratory is developing sensitive assays that use routine blood samples to detect rare, mutated gene fragments arising from cancer cells that are indicative of diagnosis, prognosis and choice of therapy.

A long-term goal is to design assays that can be carried out on a blood sample obtained during a routine annual medical examination that enables the early detection of cancer even though no symptoms have occurred.

“On behalf of my colleagues who are inventors on virtually all of my patents — and without whom none of these inventions would have been made — it is an honor to represent them as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors,” Kramer said.

Sinko, who develops drug-delivery technologies and pharmacokinetic prediction models, focuses on HIV treatment and prevention, lung and breast cancer treatment and chemical terrorism countermeasures for the eyes, lungs and skin.

The professor was recognized by the academy for his commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship and translation of his intellectual property into patient cures. Sinko has 20 U.S. patents that have been licensed or used as foundations for startup companies. Some of his earliest efforts and intellectual property contributions continue to generate revenue years later. He also was commended for being mentor with significant influence on former research group members, several of whom have successfully started and led companies.

“I am very grateful for being elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors,” Sinko said. “I thank the countless mentors, former students, post-docs, collaborators and supporters who have helped me get to where I am today. I am proud to join this elite group of inventors who have started more the 3,200 companies and created more than one million jobs.”