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Two of UVA’s Most Prolific Inventors, Robin Felder and Boris Kovatchev, named 2020 Fellows, National Academy of Inventors (NAI)

December 15, 2020

Robin Felder, Professor of Pathology, and Boris Kovatchev, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, have been named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Felder and Kovatchev are among the 175 fellows honored as prolific academic innovators from across the world. The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. 

Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 42,700 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, over $2.2 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

Since the NAI Fellows Program was established in 2012, ten University of Virginia innovators have been inducted, including Felder and Kovatchev. This industry recognition and all UVA innovation activity drive institutional notoriety, leveraged capital, new quality partners, sponsored research, financial return, and above all else, lives enriched and improved by UVA research.

Robin Felder, Ph.D.

Felder is a Professor of Pathology and the Associate Director of Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology at the UVA School of Medicine. He is a self-described serial entrepreneur who has launched more than ten companies based on his research in robotics and biochemistry throughout his tenure at UVA. He holds 22 U.S. and 12 international patents.

Among Felder’s impressive intellectual property portfolio is his invention of the “Remote Automated Laboratory System” or RALS®, a medical specimen analysis system that analyzes specimens taken at remote locations, processes the data in a central laboratory, and transmits results back to those locations. It is a software tool and serves as a robotic system that automatically performs blood gas analysis. It connects patient blood testing in various locations around the hospital with the central lab, allowing lab professionals to assure the quality of the testing being performed by nurses and other patient care providers. Today, the RALS® System is commercially available through Abbott and is used in more hospitals in the U.S. than any other data management system.

In 2009, Felder received the prestigious Engelberger Award for Leadership in Robotics. In 2010, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry and the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry joined in honoring him with the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry, marking the first time the organizations have honored the same awardee. In 2012, Felder was named the UVA Edlich-Henderson Inventor of the Year.

Boris Kovatchev, Ph.D.

Kovatchev is one of the world’s leading experts in diabetes technology and holds 27 U.S. and 120 international patents. He is the founding Director of the UVA Center for Diabetes Technology and has dedicated much of his career to the development and clinical testing of hybrid closed-loop control and advisory systems for diabetes management. In January 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the system, commonly referred to as the artificial pancreas, based on Kovatchev’s research and intellectual property portfolio. The technology automatically monitors and regulates blood glucose levels for Type 1 diabetes patients.

The UVA Licensing & Ventures Group has stewarded Kovatchev’s portfolio for decades, seeking to maximize its impact and to ensure the technology enriches and improves the lives of millions living with diabetes. After FDA approval earlier this year, Tandem Diabetes Care brought the commercially known Control-IQ technology to market, and since then more than 150,000 patients have integrated the system into their lives.

In 2008 Kovatchev received the U.S. Diabetes Technology Leadership Award; in 2011 he was named the UVA Edlich-Henderson Inventor of the Year, and in 2013 he was the recipient of JDRF’s Gerold and Kayla Grodsky Award presented for outstanding scientific contributions to diabetes research.