Brinton named Senior Member of National Academy of Inventors

July 1, 2024

Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD, director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science, was inducted as a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors during the organization’s annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, in June.

Portrait of Roberta Brinton wearing a dark blazer and blouse with a turquoise necklace.

Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD

Brinton joins a global membership of faculty, scientists and other inventors with success in patents and licensing who have produced technologies that have, or will, impact global society. The criteria for senior membership are a high degree of innovation, at least one issued U.S. patent and professional practice or research for at least five years. Brinton’s decades of research have yielded multiple patents and innovations with the potential to impact human health, including treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases. 

“I am thrilled to be selected for this year’s cohort of Senior Members,” said Brinton. “I was honored to be nominated by Tech Launch Arizona in recognition of my work and my commitment to foster innovation and mentor the next generation of brilliant inventors. The University of Arizona is a top-tier research institution with a bold innovative spirit that fosters the kind of creative thinking and collaboration that yields these high-impact innovations.”

Brinton is a leader in Alzheimer’s disease research, the aging female brain and regenerative therapeutics. One of her innovations was to treat nerve cells with allopregnanolone, a naturally occurring neurosteroid, which was considered revolutionary when initiated in the 1990s because regeneration of nerve cells was new. What she and her team now know is that allopregnanolone promotes the regeneration of neural stem cells within the brain.

This transformative discovery was the start of decades of research that has led to ongoing clinical trials of allopregnanolone for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Her innovations continue to advance the center’s mission to find treatments and cures for age-related neurodegenerative diseases. 

“The work Dr. Brinton has undertaken throughout her career is a testament to her dedication to finding cures for neurogenerative diseases,” said Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president for the University of Arizona Health Sciences. “We are thrilled about her selection into the academy and look forward to her continued success.”

The National Academy of Inventors has 553 Senior Members, who hold more than 6,700 U.S. patents and represent more than 100 NAI member institutions worldwide. The University of Arizona is an active NAI member institution and boasts 23 Senior Members, including five members of the 2024 class. 

“In addition to publicly recognizing academic inventors who hold patents, NAI membership encourages the disclosure of intellectual property and the translation of these inventions for the public good,” Brinton said. “Our collective goal is to encourage creative thinking and foster a spirit of innovation. The University of Arizona is the ideal place to reach that goal.”