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David Ahlquist, M.D., elected to National Academy of Inventors Fellows Program

David Ahlquist, M.D. (MED ’77, I ’80, GI ’83), Mayo Clinic Emeriti Staff, was elected to fellow status in the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The academy’s Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a 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. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

Dr. Ahlquist’s primary invention focus has been on the minimally invasive early detection and prevention of colorectal neoplasms. He is the principal investigator and inventor of the technology on which Cologuard is based. Cologuard is a minimally invasive stool-based assay approved for screening and early diagnosis of colorectal neoplasms.

In a large pivotal multicenter study, Cologuard achieved sensitivity for early-stage (stage I-II) colorectal cancer of 94%, essentially equivalent to that of colonoscopy. This technology has substantially expanded the percent of patients willing to have colorectal cancer screening.

More than 1 million patients have been screened with Cologuard to date. It is estimated that approximately 4,700 lives have been saved through the early detection of the colorectal neoplasms – a substantial public health impact.

Dr. Ahlquist’s invention portfolio includes numerous patents that focus on the fundamental scientific basis of the colorectal carcinoma screening technology as well as technical details related to optimization of this technology. He has a substantial portfolio of intellectual property that has been manage through Mayo Clinic with commercialization through partnership with Exact Sciences Corporation of Madison, Wisconsin.

In 2018 Dr. Ahlquist was honored as the inaugural Mayo Clinic Distinguished Inventor.

Mayo Clinic’s Richard Ehman, M.D. (RD ’85), Department of Radiology; and Michael Yaszemski, M.D., Ph.D. (OR ’96), Department of Orthopedic Surgery, were elected to the NAI Fellows Program in 2016 and 2014, respectively.

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