Latest members of National Inventors Hall of Fame to be inducted in May

The 2024 class of the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) literally ranges from A to Z—with a similarly broad scope of inventors and their accomplishments.

Signature accomplishments in the fields of cancer-fighting therapy, DNA sequencing, wireless networking, automotive safety, and even theatrical special effects are among those highlighted with this year’s inductees. The nine living and six historical inductees will be honored at a May 9 ceremony, “The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation,” at The Anthem in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Humorist, journalist, and podcast host Mo Rocca will emcee.

The day before, new inductees will place their names on illuminated hexagons at the NIHF Museum at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, joining the Gallery of Icons™.

James Allison: Immune checkpoint blockade therapy. Allison brought immunotherapy—using substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system for helping the body fight cancer and other diseases—into mainstream medicine. He developed ipilimumab, the first in a class of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, to treat late-stage melanoma, and received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2018.

Shankar Balasubramanian and David Klenerman: Sequencing-by-Synthesis (SBS). Their invention is a Next Generation DNA Sequencing (NGS) method that made possible efficient, low-cost, and large-scale genome sequencing. SBS has enabled significant advances in genomics, medicine, and biology.

Eric Betzig and Harald Hess: Photoactivated Localization Microscopy (PALM). Their co-invention is a super-resolution imaging technology that lets scientists look inside cells with unprecedented resolution. Through imaging at the nanoscale, biological structures, processes, and diseases can be studied with much greater clarity.

Joseph-Armand Bombardier: Snowmobile (posthumous). Bombardier invented the Ski-Doo,® the first mass-produced snow machine. It set industry standards and launched snowmobiling as a sport and recreational activity.

Andrea Goldsmith: Adaptive beamforming for multi-antenna Wi-Fi. Her invention of adaptive beamforming improves signal strength in a particular direction by combining sounds from an array of microphones with specific delays, which shaped the performance of wireless networking.

Asad Madni: MEMS gyroscope for aerospace and automotive safety. Madni led the development of this gyroscope, which was commercialized as the GyroChip. First applied in the aerospace and defense industries, this technology has saved lives through its use in aircraft and passenger vehicles.

George Washington Murray: Agricultural machinery (posthumous). Murray invented and patented agricultural machinery designed to accelerate planting and harvesting processes in the late 1800s. He also served in the U.S. Congress and advocated for greater recognition of fellow Black inventors.

Mary Florence Potts: Cold-handle sad iron (posthumous). Potts developed an improved sad iron, or “solid” iron, in the 1870s. It was lighter and offered a cooler, more ergonomic handle compared to other irons at the time. Her invention was widely commercialized as an easier, safer solution for ironing clothing and linens.

Lanny Smoot: Theatrical technologies and special effects. The Disney Imagineer, the patent leader at The Walt Disney Co. with more than 100, has developed many special effects, interactive experiences, new ride vehicle and robotic concepts, and other technological advancements for Disney’s theme parks, attractions, resorts, hotels, and cruise ships.

Alice Stoll: Fire-resistant fibers and fabrics (posthumous). A research physiologist and pioneer in aerospace medicine, Stoll led the development of fire-resistant fabrics in the 1960s. Her work made it possible to rate materials by their ability to protect from thermal burns and demonstrated that fabric constructed with fire-resistant fibers was superior to fabric treated with a flame retardant.

Jokichi Takamine: Adrenaline (Adrenalin®) (posthumous). Takamine was a chemist, entrepreneur, and biotechnology pioneer whose research led to the use of adrenaline in medicine. Also known as epinephrine, adrenaline is widely used for many applications, including the treatment of anaphylaxis and cardiac arrest.

Ralph Teetor: Cruise control (posthumous). Teetor, an automotive engineer, invented cruise control in the 1940s. Originally limited to luxury vehicles, this speed control technology has become a standard feature providing greater ease in driving and safety, and with better fuel efficiency.

Xiaowei Zhuang: Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM). Zhuang introduced one of the most widely used methods of super-resolution imaging. Used to investigate biological systems and processes, this technique overcomes the diffraction limit of light to produce images with higher resolution than what is possible by conventional light microscopy.