University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Professor Heloise Anne Pereira has been named a 2016 National Academy of Inventors Fellow, a high professional distinction awarded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.
"Dr. Pereira is a role model for our students and faculty, a leader in our research strategic planning, and a timely example of the Health Sciences Center's contributions to innovation," says Jason R. Sanders, senior vice president and provost at the OU Health Sciences Center.
Pereira has been on the OU Health Sciences Center faculty for the past 23 years. Throughout her career, she has been a leader in promoting entrepreneurship and collaboration between academia and the biotechnology industry. Her research has resulted in numerous patents, and she has transitioned innovative technology from her academic research laboratory into a successful company for commercialization.
In her academic role, Pereira serves as associate dean of research in the OU College of Pharmacy, dean of the Graduate College, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and adjunct professor in cell biology and pathology. She was awarded the Henry Zarrow Presidential Professorship for Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching from 2008-2012. Pereira has published 34 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and has contributed to six book chapters.
Pereira is known internationally for her expertise on the naturally occurring protein CAP37 and has been invited to make numerous presentations on her research and commercialization experiences around CAP37-derived antimicrobial peptides. She has received numerous awards, including the distinction of Fellow to both the American Association for Advancement of Science and American Association of College Pharmacy Academic Research Program.
Pereira has been studying the naturally occurring CAP37 protein for over 25 years. Through her research, she identified and developed novel CAP37-derived antimicrobial peptides that have the ability to kill bacteria that are resistant to standard antibiotics. Currently, she has 14 U.S. patents, 4 foreign patents and numerous pending U.S. and foreign applications directed to these novel peptides and their therapeutic uses in infections.
In 2005, Pereira founded the company Biolytx Pharmaceutical Corp., and she currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer for the company. In the last 10 years, antibiotic-resistant infections have risen around the world, and new therapeutic strategies for treating antibiotic-resistant infections are urgently needed. Biolytx is working to meet this unmet need and is in pre-clinical development of antibiotic peptides for use in treatment of ocular, topical and serious hospital-acquired infections.
Pereira has been awarded over $7 million in grants to support the commercialization of new antimicrobial therapeutics. Two basic research grants totaling $3.7 million were awarded to Pereira for basic research on the naturally occurring CAP37 and CAP-37-derived peptides. An additional $3 million from state-supported funds has been awarded to Pereira and to Biolytx for applied and translational research. Recently, Biolytx received $1 million in private seed money for continued commercialization efforts.
Pereira will be inducted on April 15, 2016, as part of the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexander, Va. Commissioner for Patents Andrew Hirschfeld will provide the keynote address for the induction ceremony. Fellows will be presented with a special trophy, medal and rosette pin in honor of their outstanding accomplishments.