The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has elected two engineers from The University of Texas at Arlington, Yi Hong and Muthu Wijesundara, as senior members of the organization.
NAI senior members are active faculty, scientists and administrators who have demonstrated remarkable innovation by producing technologies that have the potential to significantly impact the welfare of society.
Hong is an associate professor of bioengineering, and Wijesundara is a principal research scientist and head of the Biomedical Technologies Division at the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute (UTARI).
“UTA researchers are dedicated to the discovery of groundbreaking technologies that will improve the human condition,” Interim Vice President for Research James Grover says. “For Drs. Hong and Wijesundara, innovation is a calling to help people live better lives. This recognition is well-deserved.”
The newly elected faculty brings UTA’s total number of NAI senior members to 11. Jon Weidanz, associate vice president for research, was elected to the inaugural class of senior members in 2019, and eight other UTA faculty members were named senior members in the spring and summer 2020 classes.
Additionally, UTA has 19 NAI fellows – a distinction separate from that of senior member – which is the most of any university in Texas.
Hong has dedicated his career to developing biomaterials for cardiovascular disease treatment and health care for women and children. In 2017, he was named a fellow of the American Heart Association for his outstanding contributions in science, medicine and leadership in heart health. His research focuses on advancing functional and bioactive biodegradable materials for tissue repair and regeneration, drug delivery and bio-imaging applications.
Hong has been the primary investigator on research grants totaling more than $3 million since beginning his career, including American Heart Association, National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health grants to develop bioactive and biofunctional materials for heart attack, blood vessel replacement and pelvic organ prolapse. Hong holds 12 issued/applied patents and has authored or co-authored more than 90 journal articles.
Wijesundara is an expert in biomedical technologies for wound healing, preventive care and robotic-assisted rehabilitation. Intellectual properties developed by UTARI’s biomedical research team and collaborators have led to the development of medical products that are at early-stage trials.
Team members from UTARI and the University of Washington pioneered the REHEAL Glove, a flexible wound dressing for treatment after hand trauma that enables better and faster healing. Wijesundara’s team has also partnered with the University of Pittsburgh to develop a smart seat cushion to reduce ulcer prevalence among wheelchair users. His efforts with UT Southwestern on creating an active insole technology for diabetic foot lesion prevention aims to reduce diabetes-related amputations.
A soft robotic glove, the Rehab Glove developed by the UTARI Team is being explored with virtual reality, in collaboration with Neuro Rehab VR LLC, to provide hand rehabilitation and sustain continuum care for people with hand impairments due to stroke or other neurological conditions.