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Ophthalmology professor to be inducted into Florida Inventors Hall of Fame

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The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame is celebrating 10 years and will induct 10 inventors, including William W. Hauswirth, PhD, who developed a gene therapy drug to treat children and adults with inherited retinal disease.

The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame will induct 10 inventors, including William W. Hauswirth, PhD, who developed a gene therapy drug to treat children and adults with inherited retinal disease. (Image courtesy of the FIHOF)

The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame will induct 10 inventors, including William W. Hauswirth, PhD, who developed a gene therapy drug to treat children and adults with inherited retinal disease. (Image courtesy of the FIHOF)

An ophthalmology professor whose pioneering work in the field of gene therapy has contributed to the restoration of vision to functionally blind patients over the last few decades has been inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.

William W. Hauswirth, PhD, is the Rybaczki-Bullard Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine. His development of Luxturna was the first gene therapy drug to treat children and adults with inherited retinal disease.

According to a news release from the University of South Florida, Hauswirth holds 20 U.S. patents, which have been licensed to more than a dozen companies. He is the co-founder of AGTC, a company which develops gene therapies to transform the lives of patients with rare inherited diseases — especially those that cause blindness.

William W. Hauswirth, PhD

William W. Hauswirth, PhD

Hauswirth also was named Florida Scientist of the Year and recognized in Time Magazine for the “Third Most Important Science Discovery of 2009.” His awards election includes his selection as Fellow of ARVO-Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Alcon Award for Vision Research, Foundation Fighting Blindness Trustees Award, and the John Kayser International award for Retinal Research, as well as several Lifetime Achievement Awards.

This year’s class of inductees, according to the news release, include discoveries that have transformed medicine and healthcare, computer technology and semiconductors, optics and photonics, communications, nuclear energy and modern color technology.

“The 2023 inductees are a testament to American innovation. Each inductee has a remarkable inventor’s story with distinct backgrounds across sector, industry, area of invention, time, and locations throughout Florida,” Paul R. Sanberg, chairman of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Advisory Board, said in the news release.

In addition to Hauswirth, the 2023 class also includes: James Cairns whose underwater electrical, fiber-optic connector technologies revolutionized the fields of Oceanography, Marine Geology and Seismology; Jason Eichenholz, whose pioneering innovations in lidar are propelling the self-driving vehicle industry; David Flinchbaugh, who invented the UroCycler which has significantly reduced fatal catheter-associated urinary tract infection; Ophir Frieder, whose disruptive advances in health monitoring, predictive medical and well-being treatment methods drastically improve patient outcomes; Deepika Singh ,whose discoveries in chemical/mechanical polishing of super-hard semiconductors significantly advanced the 5G communications infrastructure; Krishna Singh, whose landmark inventions provided the foundational structure for modern nuclear power energy; Gary Starkweather (deceased), who invented the world’s first laser printer, leading the frontier of the field of color management technology; and Daniel Joseph, a principal special effects designer and illusion developer at Walt Disney Imagineering, who has revolutionized modern design and implementation of special effects, transforming them into three-dimensional, immersive and interactive experiences; and Jonathan Rothberg, founder and chairman of 4 Catalyzer Corp. Rothberg is the pioneer of next-generation human DNA sequencing, a method for high-speed DNA analysis that enables low-cost decoding of human and other living organisms’ genomes.

“When you look at the life of any inventor, you will see someone who has had to face untold challenges and overcome adversity to make their invention a reality. However, they are unwilling to let fear or failure stop them from moving forward,” Sanberg, who also serves as president of the National Academy of Inventors, said in the release. It's that kind of perseverance that reflects the spirit of an inventor. And it’s that spirit that is reflected in these remarkable inductees.”

The 2023 Inductees constitute the ninth class to be inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. They collectively hold more than 1,100 U.S. patents and come from across industry, academia and government. Since its founding in 2013, the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame has inducted 68 inventors, who collectively hold over 5,100 U.S. patents.

“With Florida consistently ranking in the top 10 for states with the most patents issued every year,” said Elizabeth Dougherty, the Eastern Regional Outreach Director for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, “it is an honor to join the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame in recognizing these outstanding Florida inventors and celebrating the journeys that each of them has taken to get to this point.”

Inductees are selected annually through a nomination process open to all inventors (living or deceased) with a connection to the state of Florida. The nominations are reviewed by a selection committee made up of distinguished experts in relevant fields of innovation.

The 2023 class of distinguished inventors will be formally inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame at the 10th Anniversary Induction Ceremony and Gala on Oct. 6, 2023, at the Tampa Marriott Water Street in Downtown Tampa.

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