Election based on chemist’s many inventions focused on treatments for osteoporosis, alopecia and bone metastasis
Credit: University of Arkansas
Josh Sakon, chemistry professor and co-founder of BiologicsMD, one of the most successful start-up companies generated by the University of Arkansas, has been selected as a 2020 National Academy of Inventors fellow.
The NAI Fellows Selection Committee announced 175 new fellows Dec. 8. According to the selection committee, NAI fellows are recognized as prolific academic inventors and “have demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”
Sakon was chosen as a National Academy of Inventors fellow based on a body of research and inventions spanning two decades. He holds 10 U.S. patents and five foreign patents, nine of which have been licensed for commercialization. He became a member of the National Academy of Inventors in 2013.
A structural biochemist, Sakon studies collagenases-clostridial toxins, which are involved in several human and animal diseases. Working with these toxins, he has developed molecules that serve as highly targeted treatments for osteoporosis, bone metastasis and alopecia, a condition that causes hair to fall out in small patches.
Sakon co-founded BiologicsMD based on molecules he invented that address bone disease and hair loss. The first molecule reduces both tumor size and the osteolytic region in bone experiencing metastasis. The osteolytic region, sometimes called a lesion, is a dissolved or softened section of bone due to a specific disease.
The second molecule is a hair-cycle stimulator designed to restore hair loss by stimulating the follicles into an anagen growth phase. In addition to restoring hair loss, this molecule can potentially protect against future hair loss. BiologicsMD has won several start-up competitions and is now a venture portfolio of Connecticut Innovations, a venture capital firm focused on biotechnology and other high-tech industries.
Prior to becoming a member of the National Academy of Inventors, Sakon’s inventions were licensed to BP, Genencor, Danisco and DuPont. He has published 50 articles, books and book chapters.
“I am grateful for Charles Wilkins, who nominated me,” Sakon said. “Hector DeLuca, my former teacher at the University of Wisconsin, is a fellow. It is an honor to be listed alongside such a brilliant mind.”
Sakon and the other inventors are invited to an induction ceremony June 7-9 in Tampa, Florida.
Josh Sakon, professor, chemistry and biochemistry