Cutline: (L to R) Leidong Mao, Christine Szymanski and Hitesh Handa
By Brandon Ward/UGA Today
The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has selected three University of Georgia faculty as 2023 NAI Senior Members. NAI Senior Members are faculty, scientists and administrators selected for their proven ability to invent and innovate.
The UGA representatives of the 2023 class are Christine Szymanski, Hitesh Handa and Leidong Mao. With their selections, UGA now has 11 Senior Members overall.
“University of Georgia’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem is propelled forward by exactly the kinds of research performed in the labs of our three newest National Academy of Inventors Senior Members,” said Karen Burg, vice president for research. “We are proud of Drs. Handa, Mao and Szymanski not only for their benchwork but also for the efforts they’ve made to apply that work in addressing real-world problems. I congratulate them all on being selected as NAI Senior Members.”
Szymanski is a professor, associate head of the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences Department of Microbiology and member of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center. She is a leading researcher in the areas of Campylobacter pathogenesis and microbial glycobiology. Her trailblazing efforts have laid the foundation for researchers in this field and are critical for the development of vaccines and therapeutics for animal and human health.
In addition to her research, Szymanski has been named inventor on six U.S.-issued patents, along with many issued foreign patents and numerous pending patents. Her patents have been licensed to seven companies for the development of interventions against bacterial infections. GlycoVaxyn, a specialist vaccine pharmaceutical company, was founded to leverage discoveries she made during her postdoctoral studies. The company was later purchased by GSK (formerly GlaxoSmithKline) for nearly $200 million. In 2013, Szymanski co-founded VaxAlta to develop glycoconjugate vaccines for human and animal health.
Mao is a professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering. He is a leading researcher in the field of nanoscale engineering, specifically in nanoscale magnetism and its application in biomedical devices.
In 2012, Mao received an NSF CAREER Award and in 2013 the Young Scientist Award from the 13th International Conference of Magnetic Fluids. He has 20 invention disclosures and has been named inventor on five U.S.-issued patents with multiple pending applications. Three of Mao’s patents are licensed to biomedical companies for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic devices. He has also founded his own startup company, FCS Technology, to commercialize his patented discoveries.
Handa is an associate professor in the College of Engineering. His innovative translational research in biocompatible coatings for medical devices led to the development of materials that can decrease the morbidity, mortality and hospitalization costs associated with current medical devices, such as indwelling catheters, by reducing thrombosis and infection.
Handa has generated 28 invention disclosures, leading to six issued U.S. patents with 25 pending applications in the U.S. and elsewhere. Many of these inventions are licensed to his startup company, Nytricx, and are in preclinical development while seeking additional funding.
NAI Senior Members will be formally inducted at the NAI annual meeting on June 25-27 in Washington, D.C. A full list of NAI Senior members is available on the website.