JSU environmental engineering professor earns global acclaim as National Academy of Inventors fellow

(JACKSON, Miss.) – After earning a 2018 medical patent to eliminate inflammation and infection in patients whose artificial implants become brittle and start chipping, Dr. Danuta Leszczynska was recently selected to the worldwide National Academy of Inventors Fellows Program.

Polish native Leszczynska is a longtime faculty member in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. Currently, she’s a researcher and professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Industrial Systems and Technology. She will participate in an annual induction ceremony/meeting April 8-10 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Late last year, she was among 168 new fellows from throughout the globe elected to the 2019 Class of Fellows. Four are Nobel laureates. As well, she’s now one of 1,228 NAI fellows who represent more than 250 prestigious universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes. According to NAI, these fellows hold more than 41,500 U.S.-issued patents that have created more than 36 million jobs and $1.6 trillion in revenue.

The invitation to join the fellows class surprised Leszczynska, whose experience in grafting led to her second patent. She was nominated to become a member of the NAI by Dr. Almesha Campbell, director of JSU’s Technology Transfer, Commercialization and Research Communications in the Office of Research and Economic Development.

However, little did they know that Leszczynska would be chosen serendipitously as a fellow.

“This is a big honor. I’m looking forward to meeting other people to do more collaborations because we cannot do this alone and expect our research to be on top. We need collaboration. My husband (also a JSU professor and distinguished professor) and I have thousands of collaborators around the globe,” Leszczynska said.

She and her fellow inductees expect to “share findings because research is so expensive. Each member can bring their own expertise to different areas,” she said.

As it relates to her latest patent, Leszczynska said the technology is a “method for obtaining a composite coating on titanium implants for tissue engineering.” She said doctors have a choice when it comes to adhesive bond for implants. They can use plastic molding or a more superior method – innate titanium metal, which is her primary focus.

“You’re putting these implants in the human body,” she said. “There’s a lot of research going on to cover this metal or plastic with something that closely imitates the cover of the bone. But the artificial one can become very brittle and start chipping. If the cover starts chipping, it causes inflammation and infection.”

She began collaborating with a Polish Ph.D. student who had made 3D implants at the Warsaw University of Technology. The student ran into problems trying to figure out how to cover implants in patients. That’s when Leszczynska merged her grafting research with his study. She said, “We’re trying to make something so close to the real thing that the body can accept it.”

Ultimately, their technology proved functionally successful. “Now, we’re looking for a company to do more medical study and provide more money before the (composite coating) is approved for use as a metal to cover implants,” Leszczynska said.

As an NAI fellow, Leszczynska will be allowed to publish topics related to applied sciences, transformative technology and academic innovation in NAI’s “Technology and Innovation.” As well, she’ll be able to serve on national committees of the NAI and partner organizations.

Leszczynska said her achievement is just a tip of the iceberg because JSU “has really good research. It’s recognized for contributions in chemistry, engineering, biology and environmental science. We compete with the very best universities.”

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