Four Mavericks join National Academy of Inventors

Hanli Liu, Gabriela Wison, Kytai Nguyen, Zui Pan
Hanli Liu, Gabriela Wison, Kytai Nguyen and Zui Pan

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has elected four faculty members from The University of Texas at Arlington as Senior Member of the organization’s latest class – the most of any university in the nation.

NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists and administrators who have demonstrated remarkable innovation by producing technologies that have the potential to significantly impact the welfare of society.

The four new members from UTA are Hanli Liu, professor of bioengineering; Gabriela Wilson, professor of kinesiology; Kytai Nguyen, professor of bioengineering; and Zui Pan, associate professor of nursing and biology.

“The dedication of our faculty to translating groundbreaking research into tangible technologies that provide powerful solutions for our communities and industries continues to be something to celebrate,” Interim Vice President for Research James Grover said. “The efforts of faculty like Hanli, Gabriela, Kytai and Zui continue to shine a light on our University as a center for discovery and innovation.”

The newly elected faculty brings UTA’s total number of NAI Senior Members to nine. Jon Weidanz, associate vice president for research, was elected to the inaugural class of Senior Members in 2019, and four other UTA faculty members were named Senior Members in the spring 2020 class.

UTA and the University of Arizona both had four Senior Members elected in the recent class, more than any other university.

Additionally, UTA has 17 NAI Fellows—a distinction separate from that of Senior Member—which is the most of any university in Texas.

Hanli Liu is a premier expert in brain imaging. Her research includes medical instrumentation for imaging, minimally invasive or noninvasive spectroscopy of human tissue, and optical diffuse imaging of cancer and brain activities. Liu is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a member of the UTA Academy of Distinguished Scholars. She joined UTA’s College of Engineering in 1996 and has secured more than $12 million in research funding as principal investigator or co-investigator during her career at UTA.

Gabriela Wilson, who came to UTA in 2020 to establish the Multi-Interprofessional Center for Health Informatics, is an internationally recognized health care informatics scholar and expert. She previously served as chair of the University of Southern Indiana’s Health Informatics and Information Management Program, for which she developed comprehensive curriculum.

Kytai Nguyen has dedicated her career to developing health care applications for nanotechnology, including nanomedicine and nanomaterials. She is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering Society. With a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Nguyen has taken the lead in training doctoral students at UTA to develop and use nano-tools to battle cardiovascular and pulmonary ailments.

Zui Pan, a leading esophageal cancer researcher, heads a lab that is largely devoted to the study and treatment of the disease. With more than $1.6 million in funding since 2017 alone, she has been developing precision techniques for easier detection and treatment of esophageal cancer cells. She is credited with two major breakthroughs over the course of 12 months in 2017 and 2018 when she published a study in the FASEB Journal that showed that zinc can inhibit the growth of esophageal cancer cells, then developed a nanoparticle-based platform for simultaneous imaging and treatment of esophageal cancer.

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