BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Esther Takeuchi, PhD, SUNY Distinguished
Professor and Greatbatch Professor of Advanced Power Sources at the
University at Buffalo, will be one of nine living inductees into
the National Inventors Hall of Fame, according to an announcement
today by the NIHF, which honors legendary inventors whose
innovations have changed the world.
Takeuchi has earned more patents than any other woman in the
U.S., 148 at last count and growing, most of them related to her
pioneering development of sophisticated power sources for
implantable devices, now a booming multibillion-dollar
"Professor Takeuchi's ingenuity and pursuit of what is truly
innovative has made possible devices that are saving millions of
lives," says Harvey G. Stenger, PhD, dean of the UB School of
Engineering and Applied Sciences. "As a visionary scientist and
innovator at UB, and now as an inductee into the National Inventors
Hall of Fame, she is taking her rightful place alongside the most
famous inventors of our time."
Takeuchi developed the battery that enabled implantable cardiac
defibrillators (ICDs), a feat that brought her to the White House
in the fall of 2009 where President Obama presented her with the
National Medal of Technology and Innovation. ICDs are the leading
therapy for treating serious cardiac arrhythmia, with more than
300,000 lifesaving devices implanted per year. There was no prior
battery technology that could provide the essential energy needed
to bring ICDs from concept to reality.
At UB since 2007, Takeuchi has been conducting research targeted
at creating special energy storage solutions for special
"This is an exciting time to be working in energy," says
Takeuchi. "On the human level, there is a multitude of currently
intractable medical conditions that could be addressed by
electrotherapy, ranging from cardiac rhythm issues to neurological
disorders to paralysis to epilepsy to chronic pain. On the societal
level, batteries could revolutionize transportation and grid level
energy storage, liberating us from dependence on fossil fuels and
bringing us closer to a sustainable energy future. All of this is
possible with new approaches to harness the delicate and
microscopic interactions of molecules with electrons."
While at UB, she is an inventor on two patents to date.
"Patents are one of the things that drive me," says Takeuchi. "I
have this belief that what we are doing in the lab should have a
direct impact on human lives. Fundamental research is the basis,
but for me, thinking about that next step is also important."
Universities are beginning to understand that patents are as
important to academic success as more traditional measures,
Takeuchi says, such as peer-reviewed publications and external
funding. She notes that inventions that occur at a university can
provide the core ideas to launch new companies if the initial
funding is available, companies that can play a significant role in
driving the future U.S. economy.
But the pipeline of innovation that patents represent could be
threatened, Takeuchi says, by the continued lack of diversity in
science and engineering.
"Individuals with different backgrounds and distinct
perspectives are the core of innovation," she says. "What is
considered creativity on the part of an individual may, in fact, be
a different perspective. By not involving huge segments of society,
such as women, we lose out on potential progress."
Takeuchi notes that her own success has been sustained in no
small part by the enthusiasm and support of her husband, Kenneth
Takeuchi, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the UB
Department of Chemistry, with whom she now collaborates.
"Women often receive pressure to separate work life and home
life," she says. "However, any creative or leadership endeavor
requires thought, concentration and effort. Husbands can encourage
their wives by not just tolerating when they contemplate work at
home, but by celebrating it."
Takeuchi holds faculty positions in the UB departments of
Chemical and Biological Engineering, Electrical Engineering and
Chemistry as well as in the recently formed Department of
Biomedical Engineering. She is a member of the faculty advisory
board of the strategic strength in Integrated Nanostructured
Systems identified in the UB 2020 planning process, which brings
together researchers in the life sciences, medicine and engineering
to promote interdisciplinary advancements.
Takeuchi was recently named a member of the National Science
Foundation's Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee,
a post she will hold until 2013. The committee's deliberations and
recommendations are a core part of the NSF's strategic planning and
policy formulation process.
Named to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering in
2004, Takeuchi is one of just 113 women elected to the
organization, considered the highest distinction that an
engineering professional can achieve. Less than 5 percent of the
academy's 2,492 active members are women.
A fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological
Engineering, Takeuchi received the 2008 Astellas USA Foundation
Award, administered by the American Chemical Society.
She earned her doctorate in chemistry at the Ohio State
University and completed post-doctoral work in electrochemistry at
the University of North Carolina and UB. She received a bachelor's
degree from the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in
chemistry and history.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.