Inventors and Patents From the City of Tampa
Tampa Bay is home to a vibrant community of talented inventors. Many of these individuals have already received patents, but there are many more that are just starting out. The Tampa Bay Inventors Council supports its members through education resources, community events, and semi-monthly meetings. The council includes both experienced and novice inventors. It is one of the fastest-growing groups of independent inventors in the country.
Inductees into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame include Norma Alcantar, who holds 22 patents. Having inherited her grandmother’s knowledge, Alcantar has applied science to solve everyday problems. Her recent patents involve biomedical applications of her technology to battle a number of diseases. In particular, she has developed a drug delivery system that disrupts the formation of amyloid deposits that are responsible for damaging brain tissue. In addition, Alcantar has been named a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. She has also received numerous honors and awards, including a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award, a Jewish National Fund Fellowship, and an Excellence in Innovation Award from the University of South Florida’s NAI Chapter.
The selection committee for the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame selected seven new inductees. The group includes a University of South Florida professor who invented technology that revolutionized modern computing. Other inductees include a professor who pioneered advances in decontamination and biomedical treatments for acute diseases. All of the inductees have some connection to Florida. For more information on the new inductees, visit the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame at the USF Research Park in Tampa.
In 2016, Dr. Alcantar was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. She also serves as the departmental director of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Minority Scholars Program, which aims to advance underrepresented minority students in STEM fields. In addition, she co-directs the graduate certificate programs in Materials Science and Engineering and Water, Health, and Sustainability. She also received a Hispanic Pathways Award in 2010.
Patricia E. Bath
Bath received the Merit Award for her breakthroughs in cancer research. She developed the Cataract Laserphaco Probe, a tool that uses laser power to vaporize cataracts. This device has helped thousands of people worldwide recover their sight. Before this tool, only surgeons could remove the cataracts surgically. Bath’s contributions revolutionized the field of ophthalmology.
In addition to her pioneering research in the field of eye surgery, Bath also invented a surgical procedure that removed cataracts by means of a micro-incision. The procedure combined laser radiation and ultrasonic energy. Bath’s optical fiber delivery system was also instrumental in saving the sight of people who had been blind for 30 years or more.
Dr. Bath’s invention, the laserphaco, revolutionized cataract surgery. It removed cataracts without damaging the eye, and also minimized intraocular damage. The procedure took five years to perfect, but the technique has since been implemented around the world. Bath was the first Black woman physician to receive a medical patent.
In addition to her research, Bath is dedicated to the fight against blindness. She is continuing to direct the AIPB and hopes to one day establish a world eye institute focused on prevention and treatment. Her personal best moment was during a humanitarian mission in North Africa, when she restored the sight of a woman who had been blind for 30 years by implanting a keratoprosthesis. She says that being able to restore a person’s vision is the ultimate reward.
Bath holds five patents in the United States, three of which are related to the Laserphaco Probe. She also holds a patent on a device that uses ultrasound and pulsed laser to remove cataracts. This device has been marketed in several countries around the world and has already been approved for use in the United States. Bath hopes to license the device in the next year or so and use the proceeds to support AIPB.
Bath completed her ophthalmology residency at New York University in 1970. She was the first Black woman to complete an ophthalmology residency at NYU. She later went on to become chair of ophthalmology residency at Drew-UCLA.
Bath’s first patent was for a tool that helps surgeons to remove cataracts in patients with eye disease. She later moved to California and became the first woman faculty at the Jules Stein Eye Institute. Her research led to the creation of Community Ophthalmology, a new discipline in the field of medicine. In addition, she co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness.
Annalisa Urena, a student at Family Christ School in Tampa Palms, started inventing in 4th grade. Her first product was a teddy bear that monitored a child’s heart rate. It could alert parents if the child is having a problem. She is now working on an updated version of the product, and has plans to make it available for purchase.