Published: Feb. 10, 2021 By

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) today announced that CU Boulder researchers Mark Rentschler, Greg Rieker and Tin Tin Su have been designated as NAI Senior Members in recognition of their impact on society through extraordinary innovation.

National Academy of Inventors Fellows from CU Boulder
  • Henry Kapteyn (Physics) in 2020
  • Distinguished Professor Margaret Murnane (Physics) in 2020
  • Terri Fiez (Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering, Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation) in 2019
  • John “Jan” Hall (Physics) in 2018
  • Alan Weimer (Chemical and Biological Engineering) in 2018
  • Distinguished Professor Marvin Caruthers (Chemistry and Biochemistry) in 2017
  • Professor Larry Gold (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology) in 2017
  • Distinguished Professor Christopher Bowman (Chemical and Biological Engineering) in 2016
  • Distinguished Professor Leslie Leinwand (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology; Chief Scientific Officer, BioFrontiers Institute) in 2016
  • Distinguished Professor Kristi Anseth (Chemical and Biological Engineering) in 2015

NAI Senior Member election is reserved for active faculty, scientists and administrators with success in patents, licensing and commercialization who have produced technologies that meaningfully benefit society. Senior Members also foster an inventive atmosphere at th eir institutions, while cultivating the next generation of inventors.

Professor Mark Rentschler

Mark Rentschler, a professor of mechanical engineering, is a named inventor on 24 U.S. patents and 18 international patents, along with numerous additional patent applications pending. Each of his issued and pending patents are commercially licensed or in the process of being licensed.

Virtual Incision Corporation, founded substantially upon Rentschler’s doctoral research, is one of these licensees. Focused on a novel miniaturized in vivo robotic assistant, Virtual Incision seeks to help those who need colon resection procedures to treat lower gastrointestinal diseases. Today, Virtual Incision has over 25 employees and has raised $50 million of venture capital.

Aspero Medical, Inc., a CU spin-out company based on technology and intellectual property developed in Rentschler’s research laboratory, currently has five employees and plans to expand in 2021. Aspero, which provides solutions for those who suffer from incomplete gastrointestinal endoscopies, has raised $2 million in venture-capital funding and secured National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants.

Rentschler and the students working in his Advanced Medical Technologies Laboratory are developing a new patent portfolio around robotic endoscopy for gastroenterology. He was recently awarded funding to further translate the basic research concepts for this approach.

Associate Professor Greg Rieker

Greg Rieker, associate professor in mechanical engineering, is widely recognized for his ability to translate fundamental technologies from physics labs into real-world applications. He boasts six issued patents–four of which are actively licensed–and three pending patents.

Rieker leads a highly productive traditional research group and has served as PI or Co-PI on over $53 million in grants to the university, including supporting an average of 15 full-time and graduate student researchers.

One of the two startups Rieker has created and led, LongPath Technologies, has grown to 10 employees and landed its first commercial customer and revenue without any equity funding. LongPath has already mitigated methane emissions in the tens of thousands of tons of CO2-equivalent and could quickly reach many millions of tons mitigated on an annual basis.

Rieker helped reimagine several graduate design classes to include a stronger emphasis on intellectual property development and commercialization activities, and he has continued to mentor a dozen of the more than 200 students attending these classes. He is now also mentoring faculty seeking to develop intellectual property and integrate innovation into their research.

Professor Tin Tin Su

Tin Tin Su, a professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB), also currently serves as director of graduate student affairs for MCDB and co-program leader for the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Su is the lead inventor on three issued patents, two of which are licensed to SuviCa, Inc., a startup company she co-founded in 2010 and for which she serves as chief scientific officer. Su’s inventions have garnered $4.5 million in federal contracts from the National Cancer Institute, resulting in subcontracts to five Colorado researchers at other institutions and a potential new treatment for an orphan disease. The inventions have created full- and part-time jobs for 13 employees in Colorado.

Currently, Su is utilizing a $2 million SBIR contract for SuviCa to develop an innovative screening platform–hardware and software–to identify novel radiation modulators for cancer. This system will be leveraged to generate intellectual property through partnership agreements to screen compound libraries. Each new compound identified has the potential to generate upwards of $4 million.

At CU Boulder, Su has taught over 2,000 undergraduates, mentored 59 Ph.D. students as PI or thesis committee member and trained six postdoctoral researchers.

About CU Boulder and the NAI

Senior Members Rentschler, Rieker and Su are the latest inventors recognized by NAI, joining 10 CU Boulder inventors named NAI Fellows since 2015.   

The NAI, an international organization of university, and governmental and non-profit research institute members, includes more than 4,000 individual inventor members and fellows from more than 250 institutions around the world.

The organization’s mission is to recognize and encourage inventors U.S. Patent and Trademark Office patents, 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.