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From facial recognition to nanomedicines, these Northeastern inventors are transforming health care and technology

Headshot of Raymond Fu (left) and Srinivas Sridhar (right).
Raymond Fu and Srinivas Sridhar have been named National Academy of Inventors fellows. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

A new method of measuring brain signals that can be used to diagnose eye conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and optic neuritis. Nano-medications that target cancerous tumors to reduce negative side effects that come with chemotherapy. AR technologies that can let users try on different makeup brands virtually from home.    

These are a few of the inventions created by Northeastern University professors Srinivas Sridhar, a distinguished professor of physics, bioengineering and chemical engineering, and Raymond Fu, an interdisciplinary professor with the College of Engineering and the Khoury College of Computer Science.

The two have been awarded one of the highest honors in invention for their contributions to the sciences and technological fields — they have been named National Academy of Inventors fellows.  

Since its founding in 2010, the National Academy of Inventors has grown to be one of the largest organizations of its kind and works closely with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as part of its selection review process. The NAI has affiliations with more than 300 institutions and is composed of more than 4,600 individual members. 

“The National Academy of Inventors is a national society of inventors and is among the most prestigious in the areas of innovations and invention,” says Sridhar. “They annually select a small number of people every year who have made major contributions through patents.” 

Sridhar and Fu will be recognized at NAI’s annual conference in June at Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina.  

Sridhar has been a faculty member at Northeastern for nearly four decades and has focused his research on nanomedicine, neurotechnology, superconductivity and quantum chaos, he says. He is the founding director of the university’s nanomedicine and innovation center and principal investigator and director of its nanomedicine academy. Previously, he served as the university’s vice provost for research from 2004 to 2008.   

Sridhar has nine approved patents and one patent pending. He has formulated new methods to deliver nanomedicines, created a new way to measure brain signals through electric field encephalography, and has developed a novel portable brain and vision diagnostic system designed to be easy to use.  

Fu, who has been with the university since 2012, has an expertise in computer vision, machine learning and data mining. He heads up the university’s Synergetic Media Learning Lab, which focuses on research in artificial intelligence. 

Fu says he has had more than 25 patents approved, highlighting several related to human face analysis that the university has commercialized to several startups.  

A serial entrepreneur, Fu established a startup company out of Northeastern called Giaran Inc. in 2015. 

“The technology we spun uses face analysis to generate augmented reality, generating cosmetic effects on faces,” he says. “The technology was eventually adopted and acquired by the global cosmetic beauty company Shiseido, which is a multinational Japanese company.” 

But in accepting this honor, and the numerous others he’s acquired since working at Northeastern University, he said none of it would have been possible without the work of his team at the Synergetic Media Learning Lab. 

“We have around 20 people in the lab right now and I think everybody contributed to my achievement as a group,” he says.