NSW professor joins the ranks of the National Academy of Inventors

Dec. 12, 2022

Dr. Floyd “Ski” Chilton, professor at the School of Nutritional Sciences and Wellness and director of the Center for Precision Nutrition and Wellness, has just added another to a list of his professional distinctions - he’s been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NIA).

The NAI Fellows Program recognizes academic inventors who have created or facilitated outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Admission to the NAI is the highest professional distinction awarded to academic inventors.

“I am so honored and humbled to have been named to the National Academy of Inventors,” said Dr. Chilton. “I’ve always believed that creativity and imagination – much more than intelligence and scientific acumen – are the qualities that lead to the great discoveries which benefit society.”

Dr. Chilton’s research has focused on moving the standard of care from disease treatment to prevention through a precision nutrition approach that takes into account genetic and epigenetic factors affecting an individual’s disease risk. He wants to address racial health disparities, and to understand the molecular and genetic underpinnings that lead to illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, cancer – and, more recently, severe COVID-19.

“What’s really emerging is the use of cutting-edge metabolomics to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms that drive human disease,” he explained. “That really offers the opportunity to not just tell people where they are in their current health or disease state, but to predict future outcomes so that prevention and intervention can start much earlier.”

Over the course of a 40-year research career, Dr. Chilton has filed over 30 patents, including methods for treating asthma and hay fever, and methods for identifying biomarkers and molecular networks that impact and are associated with cancer and COVID-19 severity. He has also founded several companies, written over 160 academic publications and five bestselling books, and has received over 35 years of continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health.

“I say I’ve had several lives,” he joked. “I’ve written books, I’ve started several for-profit and nonprofit companies, I actually moved out of academia for awhile.” But when the University of Arizona approached him to lead the Center for Precision Nutrition and Wellness, he decided to return to the world of academic research. “The one thing I can’t refuse is the chance to change the world,” he said. “And certainly the University of Arizona gave me the opportunity to do that.”

Dr. Chilton’s admission to the NAI is the latest of many honors he’s received over the course of his career, including the 2016 Established Investigator Award at Wake Forest School of Medicine, the Denham Harmon Outstanding Research Achievement Award from the American College for Advancement in Medicine, the Alumni Achievement Award at Western Carolina University, and the 2002 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for North and South Carolina.