Dr. Billy R. Martin VCU Inventor of the Year
With so many light bulbs of inspiration going off within the ranks of VCU’s scholars, the university could well be lit by a canopy of chandeliers. Bright ideas are illuminating a range of departments and shining a national spotlight on VCU’s cadre of inventors. And so when VCUTech Transfer decided to select its first-ever Distinguished Inventor of the Year – to single out one among many for the inaugural honor – it suspected that the choice would be a difficult one. Until it reached the nomination of Billy R. Martin, Ph.D., Chairman, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology.
Chairman of the 170-year-old Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology since 2000, Dr. Martin has distinguished himself, first, by way of the prodigious nature of his work. He holds more than 30 US and foreign issued patents and patent applications. The licensing revenues from his inventions in the 2006-07 fiscal year totaled $530,000, representing 20 percent of gross revenue and 44 percent of licensing revenue for the year. More significant than his monetary contributions has been the profound impact his work has had on the lives of countless people. He is an internationally renowned scholar in the field of central nervous system pharmacology, focusing on the biological basis of drug addiction and the effects that drugs of abuse have on the brain. He has made meaningful strides toward understanding pain, and his inventions have the potential to help many patients throughout the world deal with the otherwise debilitating effects of pain, inflammation, cancer and autoimmune disease, among other afflictions.
An avuncular, energetic and generous leader, Dr. Martin is a native of North Carolina, earning his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He arrived at VCU in the early 1970s after completing post-doctoral work at Uppsala University in Sweden and Oxford University in England. One of the nation’s foremost authorities on the addictive nature of certain drugs, Dr. Martin is an advisor to the World Health Organization and consultant to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.