Research News

McLean elected as 2021 National Academy of Inventors Fellow

John McLean, Stevenson Professor of Chemistry, Stevenson Chair and the director of the Center for Innovative Technologies, has been elected a 2021 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors 

John McLean (Joe Howell)

The National Academy of Inventors Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a 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. Election as an NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.  

“I am truly honored to be recognized alongside many key academic innovators impacting society,” McLean said. “This honor really belongs to the multitude of colleagues and students with whom I have had the distinct privilege to collaborate, think and discover—together—for the benefit of science, technology and society.”   

McLean’s research focuses on the design, construction and application of advanced technologies for structural mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometers are used to weigh and quantify compounds on a molecular scale to determine structure and chemical properties of molecules. By understanding the complete structure and makeup of a molecular compound, more effective therapeutics or interventions can be achieved across a variety of human diseases.  

“John is a remarkably talented analytical chemist who is a font of novel technical ideas on mass spectrometry, particularly for metabolomics,” said John Wikswo, Gordon A. Cain University Professor and founding director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education. “We are working on some very hot projects, and I expect the future will be filled with even more inventions. This is a well-deserved honor!” 

The technologies and the ion mobility-mass spectrometry strategies that McLean’s lab develops are making complex sample analysis exponentially faster. All major global instrument manufacturers currently have or are developing instrumental IM-MS offerings, a testament to the economic and societal importance of such approaches.  

McLean’s team has been designated a Waters Corporation Center of Innovation, recognizing innovations in biotechnology, integrative biology and translational research. The lab is also an Agilent Technologies Thought Leader Laboratory, recognizing advances in translational research since 2014. He serves on a number of private industry and professional boards and is widely recognized as one of the world’s top analytical chemists.  

“I am delighted, and not at all surprised, that John’s ingenuity, creativity and talents have been recognized by the National Academy of Inventors,” said John Geer, Ginny and Conner Searcy Dean of the College of Arts and Science. “John’s innovative work in bioanalytical and biophysical chemistry has produced significant advancements in how we understand health and disease. He is a dedicated member of our faculty who is a pleasure to work with.” 

McLean is the eighth Fellow of the NAI from Vanderbilt and the first in the College of Arts & Science. Previous recipients include John Gore (’15), Philippe Fauchet (’16), Harold Moses (’16), James Crowe Jr. (’17), Craig Lindsley (’18), Anita Mahadevan-Jansen (’19) and Michael Goldfarb (’20). 

To date, nearly 1,400 NAI Fellows hold more than 48,000 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies and companies and created more than 1 million jobs. In addition, over $3 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries. The new Fellows will be inducted at the Fellows Induction Ceremony at the Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors. 

About the National Academy of Inventors 

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and nonprofit research institutes spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), 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. The NAI publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation