Charter Fellow, National Academy of Inventors

A distinguished professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy has been named a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Raymond J. Bergeron, Ph.D., who was a Duckworth eminent scholar of drug development, was recognized in February along with four of his colleagues from UF.

Nominated for his outstanding contributions in patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, Bergeron was among 101 innovators from 56 research universities and nonprofit research institutes. U.S. Commissioner for Patents Margaret Focarino, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), led the induction of the charter fellows at the second annual meeting of the National Academy of Inventors, held at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Bergeron, who holds 200 patents, has published 200 papers, authored a text on bioorganic chemistry, and edited two books on iron overload diseases. His research interests include cancer chemotherapy, the role of metals in diseases and metal chelators. Bergeron has dedicated his career to drug discovery and development surrounding cancer and iron overload diseases affecting children, namely thalassemia and sickle cell disease.

“I would encourage young biomedical researchers to think beyond publishing and grantsmanship. These are expected pursuits in academics,” Bergeron said. “Think about bringing your discoveries forward to patients. It’s all about making the world a better place.”

As a researcher in the department of medicinal chemistry for more than 30 years, Bergeron established his expertise in cellular function and iron metabolism, leading to the development of anticancer drugs and treatments for children with iron overload disease. He has taken five drugs to clinical trials, including one that shows a promising treatment for children with iron overload. He also has discovered a new therapeutic for pancreatic cancer, for which there is virtually no effective cure. It is anticipated that human trials will be launched within a year and a half.

The UF Office of Technology and Licensing has worked with Bergeron for more than 25 years to patent and license his discoveries.

“As one of the most prolific inventors at the University of Florida, Dr. Bergeron understands, not only the needs of the patients, but also what industry is looking for,” said Office of Technology and Licensing director David Day. “He works closely with the OTL to help ensure that his discoveries are protected and transferred to industry so that new therapies are brought to the patients.”

As a group, the new fellows hold more than 3,200 U.S. patents. The charter class included eight Nobel Laureates, two fellows of the Royal Society, 12 presidents of research universities and nonprofit research institutes, 50 members of the National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine), 11 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, three recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, four recipients of the National Medal of Science, and 29 American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows, among other major awards and distinctions.

A plaque naming the new fellows and their institutions will be on display at the USPTO federal building in Alexandria, Va.