From creating Spanx pantyhouse to the flight simulator, these inventors are Hall of Famers

Posted April 15, 2018 6:06 p.m. EDT

The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame is once again inducting prominent inventors into its ranks. The 2018 inductee class comprises seven inventors, ranging from the creator of Spanx undergarments to the mind behind the flight simulator.

The hall of fame "encourages individuals of all ages and backgrounds to strive toward the betterment of Florida and society through continuous, groundbreaking innovation," according to its hall's website.

"By commending the incredible scientific work being accomplished in the state of Florida, our state will attract interest, funding and further the growth of our innovation sector," it said.

Here is who made this year's cut:

Sara Blakely, Spanx inventor

Blakely, a Tampa Bay native, created Spanx -- form-shaping breathable pantyhose -- and built it into a billion-dollar business. Blakely also created the Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation in 2006, which donates to charities. As part of her commitment to the Giving Pledge, she also donates half of her wealth to charity. She holds three patents.

Emery Brown, anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital

Brown, an Ocala native, is being inducted for his contributions to anesthesiology and science. His research made it possible to more accurately monitor and use new approaches for anesthesia. He also developed statistical methods to "analyze dynamic processes in neuroscience." Brown was a part of former President Barack Obama's BRAIN Initiative Working Group. He holds three patents.

Phillip Furman, past president of International Society for Antiviral Research

Furman, a distinguished alumnus of the University of South Florida, made discoveries that led to antiviral drug development used to treat herpes, AIDS and hepatitis C. He was one of the inventors of the first approved antiviral treatment for HIV. A drug he helped develop to treat hepatitis C has a 99 percent effectiveness rate, beating out previous drugs that had a 70 percent effectiveness rate. He holds 20 patents.

Richard Houghten, founder and CEO of Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies

Houghten's impact on the pharmaceutical industry earned him a spot in the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. "His research and patents related to his groundbreaking approaches (enable) millions of compounds to be searched while requiring the actual screening of only 250 to 500 samples," a hall of fame release said. He holds 81 patents.

Edwin Link, former trustee for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University

Link, who died in 1981, is best known for inventing the flight simulator used to train pilots. He is also well known for his contributions to submersibles and underwater archaeology. His foundation, the Link Foundation, gave a grant to FAU for an undergraduate ocean engineering program -- the first in the country. He is an inventor on 27 patents.

Sudipta Seal, trustee chair and distinguished professor at University of Central Florida

Seal is currently the chair of UCF's materials science and engineering department. His work led to "groundbreaking therapeutic applications in regenerative nano-medicine," according to the hall of fame. He also created a way to combine nanostructures with power plant ash particles to clean up oil spills. He holds 48 patents.

Herbert Wertheim, CEO of Brain Power Inc.

Wertheim, an optometric physician and alumnus of the University of Florida, discovered and created an ultraviolet dye absorber used for eyeglass lenses. It helps eyeglass wearers prevent cataracts and eye diseases. Wer­theim is the founder and CEO of Miami-based Brain Power Inc., which makes ophthalmic instruments, therapeutic eyeglass lens tints and eye-related diagnostic products. He holds seven patents.

Contact Malena Carollo at or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.