Biotech innovator Branchaud elected to inventors group

UO emeritus professor Bruce Branchaud, a distinguished scientist and scholar with a tireless entrepreneurial drive, has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Branchaud’s decades-long career as an organic chemist, a bioorganic chemist and a chemical biologist is balanced by his long track record of accomplishments as a biotech inventor and innovator. He has mentored young innovators, served in leadership roles in the biotech industry and contributed to the founding of several startups and university spinouts, including the UO-bred chemical sensor company SupraSensor.

“I am honored to be selected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. I hope that it will provide me, the University of Oregon and Oregon Health & Science University with more credibility and leverage to develop the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem we are striving to develop in the state of Oregon,” said Branchaud, who also serves as a distinguished scientist at Oregon Health & Science University.

Branchaud is one of 175 inventors at 115 research universities, government agencies and nonprofit research institutes named by the academy. Election as a National Academy of Inventors fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

Jim Deane, associate director of UO’s Innovation Partnership Services, pointed not only to Branchaud’s career accomplishments but also to his more recent role as the president of the University of Oregon chapter of the National Academy of Inventors. Innovation Partnership Services works with UO innovators, the public and industry to accelerate the adoption of innovations derived from UO research and education.

“The chapter Bruce helped us start has become the foundation for our inventor education and outreach programs,” Deane said. “He has been a proud and loyal Duck for more than 37 years and we are forever grateful for his boundless energy and guidance.”

Before joining the UO, Branchaud earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a doctorate from Harvard University and completed his postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His scientific contributions span a range of different disciplines, including organic chemistry, biological chemistry, chemical biology, organometallic chemistry and nanochemistry.

Branchaud’s first venture into invention and innovation was the discovery and development of a new class of nitrated lipids for use as signaling molecules and potential drug compounds. The work was done in collaboration with Professor Bruce Freeman from the University of Pittsburgh and scientists from the Freeman research group. Patents from the work are co-owned by the University of Oregon. That intellectual property is licensed to the startup company Complexa Inc., which is now a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on fibrosis and inflammatory diseases.

Branchaud also serves as a distinguished scientist in the Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center within the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU and joined its graduate faculty through the Department of Chemical Physiology and Biochemistry.

Branchaud is the third fellow from the UO. Psychology professor Don Tucker and Robert and Deona DeArmond Executive Director of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact Robert Guldberg have both been named as fellows. UO biology professor Shawn Lockery, chemistry professors Darren Johnson and Michael Haley and emeritus chemistry professor Jim Remington have all been named as senior members in the academy. Becoming a senior member is a stepping stone to becoming a fellow in the academy.