Cleveland, OH,
12:31 PM

Dr. Tina Vrabec Elected to National Academy of Inventors


Tina Vrabec, PhD, Research Scientist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and the MetroHealth Center for Rehabilitation Research, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Dr. Vrabec is one of 124 researchers selected for the NAI's Class of 2024.

NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists and administrators who have demonstrated innovation-producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, a tangible impact on the welfare of society. They also have growing success in patents, licensing, and commercialization, while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors. 

This year's class of NAI senior members come from 60 NAI-member institutions in the U.S. Collectively, they are named inventors on more than 1,000 U.S. patents, with 344 of those being licensed technologies and commercialized products. 

"I'm humbled to be included in a very honorable class of people doing high-class work," Dr. Vrabec said. 

Seven of the 124 newly elected members are Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) faculty. Dr. Vrabec is an Assistant Professor of PM&R at the CWRU School of Medicine. 

"Inventions are critical; the people being honored are those who actually have patents on new ideas," said John Chae, MD, MetroHealth's Senior Vice President, Chief Academic Officer and Senior Associate Dean and Professor, PM&R and Biomedical Engineering at CWRU. "Before any new idea can become translated into the world, it must be patented. Then you need to have a company take that idea, work on it, and make it viable." 

Dr. Vrabec, who holds 15 active patents, says she likes coming up with ideas that can be built on and used for different applications. 

"The thing about coming up with ideas is that they originate from different places, not just from work," she said. "I get inspiration from my family and my environment, and things that people do. Eventually, those ideas turn into something that people want to use." 

Her research has focused on the development of waveforms and electrodes for the application of electrical nerve block and integrating it with other electrical and non-electrical methods to control the nervous system.

Because nerves generate information or signals that cause pain, even when there is no tissue damage present, the benefit of blocking the nerve impulses can mean a reduction in a patient's pain levels.

Dr. Vrabec's work includes applying high-frequency and direct-current nerve block to treat cardiac arrhythmia. In 2023, a research project on which she is a multi-principal investigator received a four-year, $3.3 million National Institutes of Health award. It is her fourth active research project equivalent award from the NIH.

In 2021, Dr. Vrabec and Niloy Bhadra, MD, PhD, were awarded a 4-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study a new electrical stimulation technique to treat spasticity, a significant complication of stroke, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. 

Other NAI members who are MetroHealth researchers are Kevin Kilgore, PhD, Staff Scientist in the Departments of Orthopedics and PM&R and the MetroHealth Center for Rehabilitation Research; and P. Hunter Peckham, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Engineering. 

The 2024 class of senior members will be celebrated at NAI's annual conference in June (at which Dr. Kilgore, a member of the 2023 class, will be inducted).

Dr. Vrabec received her doctorate in biomedical engineering and her master's and bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering, all from CWRU. She joined MetroHealth in 2019. 

That seven people from CWRU are in this year's NAI class reflects the strength of that institution's engineering programs, specifically biomedical engineering, said Dr. Chae, who recruited Dr. Vrabec to MetroHealth. 

"She's been incredibly successful and a great team player," he said. "She's going to change the world."

About The MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit