Tufts Ranks in Top 100 U.S. Universities Granted Utility Patents in 2023

Ranking reflects innovative research led by faculty across the university.
Four Tufts Professors for patent

Tufts is again included in the top 100 U.S. universities granted utility patents in 2023 for scientific innovations with a potential to fuel technological breakthroughs that directly benefit society and human health.

Utility patents encompass scientific breakthroughs with the potential for technology transfer, or the process of translating academic discoveries and innovations into useful products that better the world. The 2023 list was published today by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

“The Tufts community can take pride in this recognition and what it reflects about the university,” said Bernard Arulanandam, vice provost for research. “While each patent is an achievement in its own right, taken together, they speak to the extraordinary inventiveness and dedication of our faculty and students. Every day they push the frontier of knowledge and its application to addressing the world's challenges.”

Patents acknowledge research of Tufts faculty across the university that is contributing to discoveries and innovations, many with promising health care implications. A number of these patents have been optioned or licensed by commercial parties for further development, including clinical trials. Twenty-two patents were awarded in total, with 13 going to advances in engineering. Tufts ranks 72 out of 100 on the NAI list.

A selection of patents drawn from across the university include the following faculty:

School of Arts and Sciences

Charlie Mace, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, has secured a patent for a device that can separate and quantify cells in human blood by using two layers of paper, each with a different average pore size. The patent furthers Mace Lab techniques that leverage the properties of paper and other porous materials to develop simple, affordable and patient-centric technologies.

School of Engineering

Karen Panetta, dean of graduate education and professor of electrical and computer engineering, with secondary appointments in computer science and mechanical engineering, holds a patent that refines computerized color transfer. Replacing a labor intensive, manual process, the technology offers speed and efficiency as it improves color extraction methodology and enhances depth and detail. Applications include animation, video editing, image enhancement, and photo editing software.

Igor Sokolov, professor and Bernard M. Gordon Senior Faculty Fellow in mechanical engineering, was awarded a patent for using atomic force microscopy to classify biological surfaces. His research contributes to an understanding of the building blocks of human biology—including cells, molecules, and skin—at the nanoscale, with broad implications. By revealing cellular changes that occur in various diseases like cancer, malaria, and Alzheimer's, the work helps establish a foundation for revolutionary nanomechanical applications, including the early detection of cancer. 

School of Dental Medicine

Jake Jinkun Chen, professor of periodontology, was awarded a patent for a potent anti-inflammatory small molecule with therapeutic efficacy for diabetes. His work explored the use of adiponectin receptor agonists and has been demonstrated to reduce insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and bone loss. Chen’s patent furthers an understanding of adiponectin as a useful treatment for metabolic and inflammatory disorders.

School of Medicine

Three patents were awarded to William Bachovchin, professor of developmental, molecular and chemical biology, in support of research on serine proteases and the translation of these findings into treatments and diagnostics for cell proliferative diseases like cancer. The patents cover compositions and their methods of use in radiopharmaceutical and imaging agents, enhancing cell-mediated immune response against cancers, and the efficacy of combination anti-cancer therapies—Caspase-1 and prostaglandin E2—and their role in regulating cell response to stress, inflammation and cell proliferative. 

Rajendra Kumar-Singh, professor of developmental, molecular and chemical biology, was recognized for work demonstrating how peptides (short strings of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins) target and penetrate many cell types and tissues and support overall health. His two patents carry forward research on genetic therapies for two of the most common causes of blindness, retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. 

A complete list of the Tufts lead inventors associated with 2023 patents follows.

School of Arts and Sciences 

  • Krishna Kumar, Robinson Professor (Chemistry)
  • Charlie Mace, Associate Professor (Chemistry)

School of Engineering 

  • David Kaplan, Stern Family Professor and Distinguished Professor (Biomedical Engineering)
  • Kyongbum Lee, Dean and Karol Family Professor (Chemical and Biological Engineering) 
  • Gary Leisk, Associate Teaching Professor (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Nikhil Nair, Associate Professor (Chemical and Biological Engineering)
  • Fiorenzo Omenetto, Doble Professor (Biomedical Engineering)
  • Karen Panetta, Professor (Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering)
  • Matthew Panzer, Professor (Chemical and Biological Engineering)    
  • Matthias Scheutz, Professor (Computer Science)                    
  • Igor Sokolov, Professor (Mechanical Engineering)  
  • Sameer Sonkusale, Professor (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Chemical and Biological Engineering)       
  • Qiaobing Xu, Professor (Biomedical Engineering and Chemical and Biological Engineering)

School of Dental Medicine

  • Jake Jinkun Chen, Professor (Periodontology)

School of Medicine

  • William Bachovchin, Professor (Developmental, Molecular and Chemical Biology) 
  • Linden Hu, Chervinsky Professor (Immunology)
  • Alan S. Kopin, Professor Emeritus                           
  • Rajendra Kumar-Singh, Professor (Developmental, Molecular and Chemical Biology)