New Mexico has always had an inventive spirit. Now, modern-day inventors are putting the University of New Mexico in some prestigious company.

The school recently ranked 32nd in the world for its number of patents. Innovators say they hope their work can change the world.

Lung diseases affect thousands of people in New Mexico and all over the world, but an inventor at UNM is trying to fix that by developing new diagnostics and drugs.

Graham Timmins has created a breathable solution that detects diseases like tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis.

“People will just breathe it in; it coats all of the lungs and all of the bacteria in the lungs and it gives off this labeled gas and that’s how we measure what’s going on,” said Timmins. “It’s really kind of cool.”

He has also patented a new drug that is being tested.

“It either makes them more effective against the bacteria, or it stops the body from metabolizing them quite so quickly,” said Timmins.

UNM had a record 74 patents last year.

It’s a long list ranging from medical devices to fuel cells catalysts for electric cars.

“Nobody will switch to a technology — doesn’t matter how nice and environmentally friendly it is — when it’s twice as more expensive to operate than the current technology,” said inventor Plamen Atanassov.

That’s why he is pioneering non-platinum catalyst fuel cells using cheaper metals to power electric cars.
“So you take [the platinum] out, and you replace it with something else and you collapse 30 percent of the cost,” said Atanassov.

UNM says their top ranking for patents brings them pride — with other patents that include trying to find a natural cure for cancer, and a patch that will measure blood alcohol level.

All these technologies could advance global economies and help UNM become a leader in future inventions. 

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPOA) compiled the data used to rank UNM among other universities around the world.

The university says the 74 patents last year generated $2 million in revenue. However, that does not include profits from businesses using the technology and employees hired because of it.