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Inventor Spotlights

Dr. Eric Leuthardt

Neurosurgeon & Biomedical Engineer
St. Louis, Missouri

Modern Medicine’s Brain-Mapping Renaissance Man

Dr. Eric Leuthardt doesn’t have a day job; he has three. He’s an Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and Biomedical Engineeringat Washington University School of Medicine, where he cares for people with brain tumors and epilepsy, and he runs a lab with seven Ph.D. candidates focused on neuroprosthetics and brain-mapping. As Director of Washington University’s Center for Innovation in Neuroscience and Technology, he gathers neurosurgeons, engineers, mathematicians, physicists and computer scientists to collaborate and develop new technologies to improve neurosurgery.

“I’m very intellectually hungry,” says Dr. Leuthardt, modestly underselling himself. His psychological thriller, RedDevil_4, will hit bookshelves in 2013, and he serves as Chairman of the Board for Neurolutions, a startup that creates neuroprosthetics for spinal cord injury and stroke patients, and Chief Medical Officer for GeneralSensing, a startup focused on technology to improve handwashing hygiene in hospitals. He’s also one of Intellectual Ventures’ senior inventors, a cross-disciplinary group of some of the world’s top scientific minds.

Award-Winning Neurosurgeon and Prolific Inventor

In 2004, Dr. Leuthardt’s work in brain-computer interfaces and neuroprosthetics – studying how the brain encodes information and developing devices that are controlled by thoughts – caught the attention of MIT’s Technology Review, which named him one of its top 35 innovators under 35. Intellectual Ventures Founder and CTO Edward Jung sat on the jury panel for the TR35 award and invited Dr. Leuthardt to become one of Intellectual Ventures’ senior inventors. Dr. Leuthardt had read about Jung’s work with Intellectual Ventures in a Technology Review article from the previous year, and he became the first physician in the group of senior inventors.

Over the past seven years, Dr. Leuthardt has been an integral part of Intellectual Ventures’ invention sessions, personally recruiting physicians from different specialties to help the company invent in the biomedical field. He’s a prolific inventor named on around 80 issued patents and another 720 or more patent applications owned by Intellectual Ventures. “By one respected ranking organization, I’m currently the most prolific physician inventor right now when it comes to United States patent applications,” says Dr. Leuthardt. “As far as all inventors, I’m probably in the top five in that category.”

Intellectual Ventures’ Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Invention

Dr. Leuthardt believes Intellectual Ventures’ cross-disciplinary approach is precisely what makes the invention sessions so successful and rewarding. As an undergraduate student, he studied theology and biology – a combination that inspires quizzical looks but makes perfect sense to Dr. Leuthardt. “I like to integrate strange combinations of disciplines. Intellectual Ventures is a wonderful arena for bringing experts from different fields together to innovate breakthrough concepts,” says Dr. Leuthardt. “Learning about geophysics from Lowell Wood, fundamental propulsion systems from Rod Hyde, optogenetics from Ed Boyden…the list goes on and on.”

Some of the inventions Dr. Leuthardt has worked on for Intellectual Ventures are minimally-invasive surgery techniques, implants that avoid the immune system and microscopic robots that travel in blood vessels to break up blood clots or treat tumors. The process from invention to granted patent to product takes years, but it’s clear that the intellectual investments made by Dr. Leuthardt and his fellow inventors at Intellectual Ventures have the potential to propel advances in a wide array of scientific and medical fields.

Dr. Eric Leuthardt
"I like to integrate strange combinations of disciplines. Intellectual Ventures is a wonderful arena for bringing experts from different fields together to innovate breakthrough concepts."

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