Georgia professor to join National Academy of Inventors

Dr. Ferguson-Noel
Dr. Naola Ferguson-Noel

This June, Dr. Naola Ferguson-Noel, a professor at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, will be inducted as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, an organization comprising more than 4,000 members and 1,567 fellows, including 45 Nobel laureates.

Becoming an NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction awarded solely to academic inventors, and Dr. Ferguson-Noel is the only veterinarian to be inducted in the class of 2022.

Dr. Ferguson-Noel is a researcher at the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center. Her research has made important contributions in the field of avian infection with Mycoplasma gallisepticum, a disease that affects poultry worldwide.

“Dr. Ferguson-Noel is the very first person you would want to talk with about any questions related to Mycoplasma infections in poultry,” said Dr. Roy Berghaus, interim department head for the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center. “Not only is she a top-notch scientist, but she is also a pleasure to work with, and we feel very fortunate to have her as a member of our faculty.”

Dr. Ferguson-Noel is the co-inventor of two patented Mycoplasma vaccine strains and has two in the patent process, along with an array of foreign patents. The technologies developed by Dr. Ferguson-Noel have had a global impact through license agreements with multiple animal health companies. These agreements led to a commercial poultry vaccine, MG Live, as well as two vaccine products in clinical development.

Dr. Ferguson-Noel and a colleague in the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center lab
Dr. Ferguson-Noel has been recognized for her research, which has led to new approaches for combatting Mycoplasma strains in poultry. (Courtesy of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine)

She received her veterinary degree from the University of the West Indies School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, and her master’s in avian medicine and PhD in medical microbiology from UGA.

“I was not at all surprised to see that she had been elected to the National Academy of Inventors,” Dr. Berghaus said. “Her work on Mycoplasma diagnostics and vaccine development will continue to have a major impact on the global poultry industry for years to come.”

Dr. Ferguson-Noel is one of 169 scientists and researchers who will be inducted into the NAI during the organization’s annual conference June 27, 2023, in Washington, D.C

A version of this article appears in the February 2023 print issue of JAVMA.