The National Academy of Inventors has named George Gillies, a University of Virginia research professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, as a 2018 fellow. Election to fellow status by the organization is considered one of the highest professional distinctions for academic inventors.
The academy lauded Gillies, who holds 36 U.S. patents on several medical devices for neurosurgery and cardiology, for demonstrating “a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”
Gillies has played an active role in the technology transfer process for commercialization of his patented medical devices. He is a co-founder of the publicly traded company Stereotaxis Inc., which produces a minimally invasive remote magnetic navigation system for guiding catheters within the heart for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias.
He also is co-inventor of the “I-Patch,” an implantable electronic system that stimulates the spinal cord for treating chronic back and leg pain; and is the co-inventor of a suite of clinical tools that facilitate minimally invasive access to the outer wall of the heart for enabling improved electrophysiological therapies.
“It has been a tremendous privilege to work with so many wonderful colleagues and students here at UVA and our partner universities over the past many years, toward the goal of creating new approaches to difficult problems in neurosurgery and cardiology,” Gillies said. “I am very grateful to the National Academy of Inventors for recognizing these contributions, and to our research sponsors, the UVA Licensing and Ventures Group, and our licensee companies for their strong ongoing commitments to seeing these inventions through to the marketplace.”
A member of UVA’s engineering faculty since 1985, Gillies received UVA’s 2006 Edlich-Henderson Inventor of the Year Award. He also is a co-recipient of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Lewis F. Moody Fluids Engineering Award (2003), the University of Iowa’s Howard Lectureship on Surgical Innovation Award (2008), UVA’s President and Visitors Research Award (1988) and North Dakota State University’s Alumni Achievement Award (2007).
“The talents and expertise of researchers like George Gillies lead to precision treatments for complex diseases, which means less suffering for patients,” UVA Engineering Dean Craig H. Benson said. “This is a well-deserved recognition for George’s many contributions to medical technologies.”
Gillies has published more than 300 journal articles and has served on the editorial boards of the academic and professional journals Reports on Progress in Physics, Review of Scientific Instruments, and Metrologia.
“Dr. Gillies is one of the earliest and strongest champions of translational research and research commercialization at the University of Virginia, and he has spent his career sharing this passion with undergraduate, graduate and medical students,” Frederick Epstein, Mac Wade Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering, said. “He’s an exceptional mentor, and his election to NAI is well deserved.”
Gillies is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers and the Institute of Physics. He also is a senior member of the Optical Society of America, a life senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and an associate member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
When not tinkering in the lab, he said he enjoys running in 35 to 40 local foot races per year, and growing “interesting kinds” of fruits and vegetables in his garden.
With his election to the National Academy of Inventors, Gillies joins five other UVA inventors who are fellows with the organization: Jayakrishna Ambati, Joe Campbell, Benson, John Herr (deceased) and Barry Johnson, as well as about 1,000 other fellows representing research universities and government and non-profit research institutes.
The 2018 class of fellows will be inducted in April at the Space Center Houston during the academy’s annual meeting, and will be announced in The Chronicle of Higher Education and the academy’s multidisciplinary journal, Technology & Innovation.