David A. Edwards elected to National Academy of Inventors

Bioengineer recognized for prolific record of invention

December 10, 2013

Cambridge, Mass. – December 10, 2013 – David A. Edwards, Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Idea Translation at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Fellowship in the NAI is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Together, this year’s 141 NAI fellows hold more than 5,600 U.S. patents. 

Edwards combines the logic of science with the creativity of art to develop technological advances, design solutions, and creative partnerships around the world. Among his innovations in recent years are: a packaging platform for food and beverage products that avoids plastic and other damaging materials, inspired by fruits and vegetables; a platform for delivering nutrition via the air for better healthcare, including chocolate without calories, and vitamins and supplements without pills; and the oPhone, a new platform for delivering complex olfactory signals for healthcare, entertainment, and global communications.

“I am deeply honored to receive this distinction with incredibly inventive colleagues from here at Harvard University and across the country,” Edwards said.

In addition to his role at SEAS, Edwards is also a core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and a faculty associate of the Harvard University Center for Nanoscale Systems. He founded and directs Le Laboratoire in Paris, which brings artists and scientists together to develop new innovations, that is also soon to open a new branch in Cambridge, Mass.

At SEAS, he teaches a course called "How to Create Things and Have Them Matter." This aspirational design course teaches students to generate, develop and realize breakthrough ideas in the arts, sciences, and engineering. Students learn fundamental skills in engineering design, brainstorming, prototyping, and public presentation.

Edwards was one of the youngest members ever elected to the U.S. and French national academies of engineering, and has won numerous international awards, including being a three-time recipient of the Ebert Prize of the American Pharmaceutical Association for his early work in drug and vaccine delivery. 

George Whitesides, the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor in Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, has also been elected to the NAI this year. His work spans many disciplines, including physical and organic chemistry, materials science, biophysics, microfluidics, self-assembly, micro- and nanotechnology, science for developing economies, origin of life, cell-surface biochemistry, and more.

The NAI fellows, nominated by their peers, will be inducted by Deputy U.S. Commissioner for Patents Andy Faile, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, during the 3rd Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, on March 7, 2014, in Alexandria, Va. The Fellows will also be recognized in The Chronicle of Higher Education and in a future issue of Technology and Innovation—Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors.