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SLU’s Adriana Montaño Named to National Academy of Inventors for Rare Genetic Diseases Research

by Bridjes O'Neil
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Bridjes O'Neil
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Researcher Adriana Montaño, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics, biochemistry and molecular biology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, has been named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) for her internationally recognized work in the field of Lysosomal Storage Diseases (LSDs).

NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists, and administrators with success in patents, licensing, and commercialization and have produced technologies that have brought or aspire to bring a real impact on the welfare of society. 

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Researcher Adriana Montaño, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics, biochemistry and molecular biology at the School of Medicine. SLU file photo.

Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) are lysosomal storage disorders which are rare but debilitating inherited diseases associated with enzyme deficiencies, typically become evident in the first 12 months following birth. Without effective treatment, these diseases can lead to profound developmental challenges and early death. Both conditions are currently treated with long-term enzyme replacement, but such therapy is difficult to administer, it is expensive and offers limited benefits.

Montaño’s work focuses on the establishment of natural history of the disease, biomarker discovery, and development of novel treatments including oral tolerance, use of less immunogenic proteins, and tropism-modified strategies for targeted gene and enzyme delivery to bone and heart. Two key Montaño patents have been optioned for licensing to a pharmaceutical company. 

NAI Senior Members are also rising stars who foster a spirit of innovation within their communities and institutions while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors. Montaño is inspired to help individuals achieve their highest potential. She actively teaches and mentors medical students, clinical and postdoctoral fellows, also graduate and undergraduate students. Her teaching assignments range from cellular and molecular biology to lysosomal storage disorders. She is recognized for setting challenging goals, encouraging self-discovery, and establishing a positive learning environment. 

“Montaño is a transformational leader in the school of medicine. She combines the strength of her scholarly work with creative outreach to foster research advancement across the school of medicine,” said Christine Jacobs, M.D., vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“In sum, Montaño’s contributions to innovation and her strong mentoring commitment have brought benefit not only to SLU but also regionally and nationally, to the communities of science and humanity,” said Ken Olliff, vice president for research and partnerships at SLU. 

Montaño works closely with Jacobs and Olliff in her roles as senior associate dean for research in the School of Medicine as well as a member of SLU’s Innovation Council and Institute of Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation.

“Montaño is a notable embodiment of the qualities and accomplishments the Academy seeks to recognize in and through its Senior Membership,” Olliff added.

This year’s class reflects NAI’s dedicated efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in its membership. The Class of 2022 Senior Members will be inducted at the 11th Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors on June 14, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona. The new class of NAI Senior Members hails from 41 NAI member institutions and research universities. They are named inventors on over 1,093 issued U.S. patents.

About Saint Louis University School of Medicine

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious diseases.

About National Academy of Inventors

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide.

It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the United States 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 has a close collaborative relationship with the USPTO and is one of three honorific organizations, along with the National Medals and National Inventors Hall of Fame, working closely with the USPTO on many discovery and innovation support initiatives. The NAI publishes the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation.