As a scientific advisor at Rothwell Figg, Dr. Kathleen DiNapoli ("Kat") provides scientific knowledge that enables the firm to operate effectively and innovatively at the intersection of science and law. Kat works with scientists, inventors, and startups who seek to patent novel scientific inventions, with a special focus on biological, biochemical, biophysical, and medical products. As a scientific advisor, she helps to interpret the landscape of scientific literature and determine the best way to get a discovery patented. Her work helps clients protect their discoveries and commercialize their products.

Kat has extensive research experience both from Johns Hopkins and Wake Forest University, where she earned her B.S. in biology, with a concentration in physics. Topics of research include computational and mathematical modelling of disease risk, computational cancer biology research, machine learning, applied genetics research, plant biology and genetics, and drone research. Her thesis research included mathematically modelling the mechanics of human pancreatic cancer, including deciphering the role of small molecules as potential treatment options. She was recently awarded her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology with a specialization in computational biology from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and The Whiting School of Engineering. Her doctorate focused on basic and translational sciences in cancer biology and cell mechanics.

Her teaching experience includes training new researchers in laboratory techniques in the Muday Laboratory at Wake Forest University and the Robinson and Iglesias Labs at Johns Hopkins. She was also the co-founder of a biotech start-up during her Ph.D., giving her personal experience with the process of intellectual property and commercialization. The startup, CordeRx, Inc., aimed to produce T-Cell therapeutics derived from umbilical cord blood. Kat handled various aspects of IP licensing negations, novelty determination/competitive market analysis, stakeholder engagement, and business plan development. She has been published six times in peer reviewed journals and has presented work at numerous national and international conferences. She has also won awards for excellence in research and presentation skills.

At Rothwell Figg, Kat works on patent prosecution, freedom to operate documents, and patent drafts. She reads and interprets both scientific patents and non-patent literature in a variety of scientific fields including biology, physics, chemistry, applied mathematics, and computer science.

Her multidisciplinary background provides expertise and literacy in multiple scientific fields and allows her to operate with a perspective that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. Many discoveries today are not limited to a single scientific discipline. Often they are complex and multifaceted. Having a background spanning from plant biology to applied mathematics allows Kat to analyze innovations from a variety of different perspectives. Additionally, her communication skills are a major asset as a scientist. She can converse with clients, interpret their discoveries, and ultimately communicate them to others – a critical skill in patenting.

In the field of intellectual property law, science, in all its complexity and promise, is the raw material of daily work. Kat helps Rothwell Figg attorneys do that work effectively, strategically, and knowledgeably.

*Not admitted to the D.C. Bar

Honors & Recognitions

Nominee for PEO North American Scholars Award (2019)

  • Competitive North American graduate scholarship awarded to PhD/MD/JD students

Finalist for the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (2018)

  • Competitive national graduate fellowship awarded to PhD students in science and engineering

The Carolina Biological Supply Company Research Award (2016)

  • Award given to the most distinguished undergraduate biology major at Wake Forest

Award of Excellence in Biology (Harvard University) (2015)

  • Award given to the best project and poster presentation in the Life Sciences division of Harvard University’s National Colligate Research Conference.

The John Bowley Derievux Research Award (North Carolina Academy of Science) (2015)

  • Award for excellence in oral presentations

Travel grant Awardee for the American Society of Plant Biologists (2015)

  • Competitive scholarship granted to young professionals to attend the annual meeting in 2015

Beckman Undergraduate Research Scholar (Beckman Foundation) (2013-2015)

  • National scholarship awarded to students to engage in meaningful in depth scientific research for 15 consecutive months during their undergraduate career. (Awarded: $26,000)

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (American Society of Plant Biologists) (2014)

  • National scholarship awarded to 16 students to engage in a full summer of research pertaining to a field of Plant Biology. (Honorary/ value: $5,700)

Wake Forest Research Fellowship (2014)

  • Scholarship awarded to Wake Forest University Students to engage in a summer of research at Wake Forest University. (Awarded, Declined due to multiple scholarships awarded in the same year/value: $4,500)

Deans List Wake Forest University (x7) (2012-2015)

Georgia Science and Engineering Fair (2011)

  • First place in category, second place overall senior division

The National Natural Resources Conservation Service Award of Excellence (NRCS) (2011)

  • Award given by the USDA to recognize research in the area of natural resource conservation



DiNapoli, K, Robinson D, Iglesias P. A mesoscale mechanical model of cellular interactions. Biophys. J. 120: 4905-4917. 

Peng D*, Gleyzer R*,… DiNapoli K, Cahan P. Evaluating the transcriptional fidelity of cancer models. Genome Medicine. 2021;13(1):73. (*signifies equal contribution) 

DiNapoli K, Robinson DN, Iglesias PA. Tools for computational analysis of moving boundary problems in cellular mechanobiology. WIREs Mech. Dis. 2020; e1514 1-33.

Surcel A, Schiffhauer ES, Thomas DG, Zhu Q, DiNapoli K, Herbig M, Otto O, West-Foyle H, Jacobi A, Kräter M, Plak K, Guck J, Jaffee EM, Iglesias PA, Anders RA, Robinson DN*. Targeting mechanoresponsive proteins in pancreatic cancer: 4-hydroxyacetophenone blocks dissemination and invasion by activating MYH14. Cancer Res. 2019; 79(18):4665-4678.

Harkey A*, Watkins J*, Olex AL, DiNapoli K, Lewis D, Fetrow J, Binder B, Muday G. Identification and receptor networks that control root responses to ethylene. Plant Phys. 2018; 176(3): 2095–2118 (*signifies equal contribution)

Maloney, G, DiNapoli, K, Muday, G. The anthocyanin reduced tomato mutant demonstratess the role of flavonols in tomato lateral root and root hair development. Plant Phys. 2014; 166:614-631.

Publications/Non-peer reviewed:

DiNapoli K, Maloney G, Muday G. Introgression lines provide insight into genetic controls of root development in tomatoes (Honors thesis)


Ph.D., Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

B.S., Biology, Wake Forest University (magna cum laude; with honors)

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