Marian Croak, Patricia Bath Will Be First Black Women in National Inventors HOF

In Summary

Marian Croak and Patricia Bath, pioneers in medicine and technology, will be the first Black women inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. 

The National Inventors Hall of Fame has announced its 2022 class of inductees and for the first time in history, two Black women will be inducted.  

Marian Croak is an engineer of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which converts voice data into digital signals that can be easily transmitted over the internet. The technology has become significant to remote work and conferencing by becoming a practical reality that is reliable and high quality.  

During her career as a pioneer, she created a text-to-donate system for charitable organizations that was widely used after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and helped to raise $130,000. The technology was used again in 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti and helped bring in $43 million in donations.  

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Croak attended Princeton University for her undergraduate degree and moved on to the University of Southern California for her doctorate. She has more than 200 patents to her name and also works with Google to help with racial justice efforts.  

Dr. Patricia Bath is receiving the award posthumously for the creation of Laserphaco cataract surgery. The ophthalmologist invented a device and technique to remove cataracts. It is different from phacoemulsification and uses ultrasound technology. The procedure performs all steps of cataract removal, including surgical incisions, destroying the lens and vacuuming out fractured pieces.  

Bath is also the first Black woman physician to receive a medical patent. After completing her residency at New York University, she completed a corneal transplant surgery fellowship at Columbia University before being recruited to co-found an ophthalmology residency program at Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital.  

She was one of the first in the industry to document Black people had double the rate of glaucoma and realize their high prevalence of blindness due to lack of eye care. She also founded the Ophthalmic Assistant Training Program at UCLA to train students on blindness prevention.  

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Bath received her bachelor’s degree from Hunter College and her medical degree from HBCU Howard University. She has been recognized by the National Science Foundation, the Lemelson Center, the American Medical Women’s Association, the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the Association of Black Women Physicians.  

The five other inductees for this year include Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker; Carl Benz, creator of the modern automobile; James Buchanan Eads, inventor of American infrastructure and defense, and Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, who created modified mRNA technology used in the COVID-19 vaccines.  

The National Inventors Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing inventors and inventions, promoting creativity and advancing the spirit of innovation. More information about this year’s inductees can be found here.  

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