Former 3M scientist selected as finalist for prestigious inventor award

Sumita Mitra. Photo: LinkedIn

The European Patent Office (EPO) recently announced the finalists for the 2021 edition of the European Inventor Award.

Indian-American Sumita Mitra, who invented the first dental filling material to include nanoparticles is one of the 15 inventor and inventor teams shortlisted from 400 nominations from across the world.

The annual innovation prize recognizes outstanding inventors who have made an exceptional contribution to technology, society, and economic growth.

“Mitra’s invention takes what was an emerging technology at the time – nanotechnology – and applies it to a new sector to provide a solution for dentists and relief  for patients,” EPO president António Campinos was quoted saying in the press release.

Mitra developed a nanomaterial-based dental filler that offers improved strength, wear resistance and aesthetics. Mitra was the first to use nanotechnology to create fillings and today, dental products based on her invention have been used in over 1 billion restorations worldwide, according to a press release from EPO.

Mitra’s ground-breaking filler FiltekTM Supreme universal restorative was commercialised by 3M and launched in 2002. The product line continues to build on her patented material, with newer generations of Filtek introduced in 2005, 2012 and 2019.

According to her profile on National Inventors Hall of Fame, Mitra holds 98 US patents and their international equivalents. Her inventions have led to a number of breakthrough dental technologies, including nanocomposites, resin-modified glass ionomers and dental adhesives.

She earned her B.S. in chemistry from India’s Presidency College, her M.S. in organic chemistry from the University of Calcutta, and her Ph.D. in organic/polymer chemistry from the University of Michigan.

Mitra retired in 2010 after more than 30 years with 3M, and now runs Mitra Chemical Consulting LLC with her husband. A former Science Coach for the American Chemical Society, she also maintains a close relationship with the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics at the University of Minnesota of which she was Industrial Director for nearly ten years.

The 2021 European Inventor Award winners will be announced at a ceremony beginning at 19:00 CEST on June 17, 2021, which has this year been reimagined as a digital event for a global audience, the release said.





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