UofSC among top universities granted U.S. utility patents

The University of South Carolina stands among the top 100 universities in the world based on the number of U.S. utility patents that faculty members received in 2019.

The distinction marks the eighth consecutive year that the university has been included on the list by the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners. South Carolina ranks 90th worldwide and was named as the lead on 31 patents last year.

“Our faculty’s ability to create new technologies and innovate year after year is one of our great strengths as a university,” says Bill Kirkland, executive director of the Office for Innovation, Partnership and Economic Engagement. “Their continued contributions to scientific discovery ultimately improve the quality of life not just for our state, but all over the world.”

The UofSC College of Engineering and Computing (CEC), School of Medicine Columbia, College of Arts and Sciences and Arnold School of Public Health all obtained utility patents, with CEC obtaining nearly half of the total number of patents issued.

Mechanical engineering professor Fanglin Chen is lead inventor on two utility patents aiming to maximize renewable clean energy use.

“The patents are related to inventions that utilize excess renewable clean energy, such as from solar and wind, to convert carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases that cause global warming) to chemicals for industrial applications,” Chen says.“UofSC has invested significantly in energy research that helps improve the energy efficiency and energy security of our nation.”

Chemical engineering professor Melissa Moss is lead inventor on a utility patent to slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

“In this patent, we describe a potential therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease that targets both RAGE-associated inflammation characteristic of the disease and protein aggregation that leads to deposition of hallmark plaques in the brain,” says Moss, using an abbreviated term for receptor for advanced glycation end products. "It has been exciting to develop data that points toward an intervention for such a prevalent and divesting disease.” Moss is working with Shannon Servoss at the University of Arkansas on the project.

The ranking places South Carolina on par with or ahead of some peer and peer-aspirant universities like Texas A&M and Penn State (tied at 65) and the University of Connecticut and Washington State (tied at 98).

South Carolina has made the list every year since its inception in 2012 (published in 2013). The rankings are compiled by calculating the number of utility patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that list a university as the first assignee on the issued patent. The annual report highlights the important role patents play in university research and innovation.

The University of South Carolina, a Carnegie Tier 1 institution of “very high research activity,” remains the only Palmetto State university to appear on the 2019 list.

“By competing for and winning additional research funding year after year, our students, faculty and researchers help drive innovation by producing valuable findings,” Kirkland says. “From there, the talented team in the Technology Commercialization Office helps protect intellectual property, file patents and commercialize discoveries. This wholistic approach, all driven by our talented people at UofSC, creates the environment for honors like this possible.”

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