Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Milan Sonka, the Lowell G. Battershell Chair in Biomedical Imaging and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Iowa, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the organization announced on December 7, 2021. He is the third UI faculty member ever named an NAI Fellow.

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 48,000 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than one million jobs. In addition, over $3 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

Sonka has been a faculty member at the UI since 1990, is recognized as a pioneer in medical imaging, and played a lead role in the design of a new 35,000-sq. ft. state-of-the-art UI medical imaging research facility which features small and large animal as well as human research imaging and image analysis capabilities, inventively designed in a large part by Sonka and his team to maximize translational research flexibility. His research focuses on general approaches to quantitative medical image analysis and on development of new quantitative diagnostic, image-guided surgical planning, outcome prediction, and treatment methods in cardiology, pulmonology, orthopedics, and ophthalmology.

“Seeing our academic discoveries to make a societal difference has always been a great desire of mine,” said Sonka. “Our team’s academic inventions are brought to everyday use through the patenting process and by Iowa-associated start-up companies, on top of the coveted publication H-indices and numbers of citations.”

Sonka is currently director of the Iowa Initiative for Artificial Intelligence and the co-director of the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging. Since joining the College of Engineering in 1990, he has held a number of administrative roles including chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as associate dean for graduate programs, research, and faculty. Sonka holds 15 patents and has produced 19 other inventions throughout his career as well as co-founded two companies. Sonka is a fellow of several prominent organizations including IEEE, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the Medical Image Computing and Computer-Aided Intervention Society. He also received the Iowa Board of Regents Award for Faculty Excellence in 2011. Sonka has received support from the UI Research Foundation, which obtained 14 patents for him and licensed his technology to three companies.

“As a pioneer in the field of medical imaging, election as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors is a hard-earned and well-deserved distinction for Professor Sonka,” said Harriet Nembhard, dean of the College of Engineering. “His innovative scholarship has transformed the field and improved quality of life as well as positioned this college and the University of Iowa as a leader in AI research and biomedical imaging.”

The complete list of NAI Fellows is available at National Academy of Inventors.

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 United States 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 has a close partnership with the USPTO and is one of three honorific organizations, along with the National Medals and National Inventors Hall of Fame, working closely with the USPTO on many discovery and innovation support initiatives. The NAI publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation.