A researcher with the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville has been named Kentucky’s and UofL’s fourth Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).
Paula J. Bates, Ph.D., is among the 175 Fellows elected this week by the NAI. To qualify for election, NAI Fellows must be academic inventors named on U.S. patents and 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 2016 Fellows are named inventors on 5,437 issued U.S. patents. Bates herself holds more than 50 national and foreign patents.
Those named this year bring the total number of NAI Fellows to 757, representing more than 150 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions. UofL is the only institution in Kentucky represented among the Fellows. Previously named Fellows from UofL are William M. Pierce Jr., Ph.D., executive vice president for research and innovation; Suzanne T. Ildstad, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Cellular Therapeutics; and Kevin M. Walsh, Ph.D., director of the Micro/Nano Technology Center.
Election to NAI Fellowship is considered the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. According to the 2016 NAI Activities Report, NAI Fellows have generated more than 8,500 licensed technologies and companies and created more than 1.1 million jobs. Over $100 billion in revenue has been generated based on their discoveries.
About Paula Bates
Bates is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine with associate appointments in the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Pediatrics. She also is an associate scientist with the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and a member of UofL’s Institute for Molecular Diversity and Drug Design. She joined the UofL faculty in 1999.
One of her major research interests is a class of anticancer agents known as “G-rich oligonucleotides” or “GROs,” which she discovered in collaboration with fellow cancer center researchers John Trent, Ph.D., and Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D. These inhibit the growth of many different types of cancer cells, but have no effect on normal cells, and are also being widely used throughout the world as tumor-targeting ligands.
Bates, Trent and Miller founded a Louisville-based biotechnology company named Aptamera to develop GROs, which culminated in one of the GROs — AGRO100, later renamed AS1411 and then ACT-GRO-777 — becoming the first in its class to enter human clinical trials.
Bates’ current research focuses on mechanistic aspects of GRO activities and in collaboration with UofL researchers M. Tariq Malik, Ph.D., and Martin O’Toole, Ph.D., she is developing GRO-linked nanoparticles for use in cancer therapy, imaging and drug delivery. In collaboration with UofL’s G.B. Hammond, Ph.D., Bates also is studying anticancer compounds derived from Amazonian plants and a novel synthetic agent that selectively kills cancer cells.
In 2015, UofL was awarded $3 million from the National Institutes of Health and combined it with $3.1 million in matching funds as one of three Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs in the United States. Bates is principal investigator on the grant which created UofL’s “ExCITE Hub” — reflecting its function to “Expedite Commercialization, Innovation, Translation and Entrepreneurship” in increasing the success rate and speed at which biomedical research is translated into products in the health care marketplace.
Bates earned a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Oxford in England and a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of London. She then completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.