Prashant Kumta Elected to National Academy of Inventors
Kumta and School of Medicine's José-Alain Sahel among this year's inductees
Kumta is a pioneer in a breathtaking array of research fields, including advanced nanostructured materials for energy storage and conversion, as well as functional nano-scale materials systems for hard and soft tissue engineering. He is Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering and the Edward R. Weidlein Endowed Chair Professor in Bioengineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, with secondary appointments in Chemical & Petroleum Engineering and Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, and an appointment in School of Dental Medicine's Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences.
Sahel, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Endowed Chair of the Eye and Ear Foundation, is a global trailblazer in vision restoration research.
The NAI Fellows program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.
Sanjeev G. Shroff, Interim U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering, noted, “Dr. Kumta’s diverse and superlative work in the two very germane and highly relevant areas of the 21st century - namely, energy storage/conversion and biomaterials/biotechnology - has helped advance our basic understanding of materials and translate this basic understanding to applications with real-world impact. His election as Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors is a well-deserved recognition of this real-world impact.
About Dr. Kumta
Dr. Kumta’s work in nanomaterials has resulted in innovations across fields as varied as energy storage, energy conversion, tissue engineering, and biomaterials.
He began his career researching economical and scalable ways to create nanostructured materials for high performance lithium-ion batteries, forming a partnership with Energizer to bring those innovations to market. Dr. Kumta also developed new approaches for creating non-oxide ceramics used in supercapacitors and electrocatalysts for direct methanol and hydrogen fuel cells.
Later, Dr. Kumta moved into biomaterials and biotechnology fields, inventing nanostructured bioresorbable bone cements or “bone putty” as well as “NanoCaPs”: nanostructured complexes made of calcium phosphates that can deliver plasmid genes and growth factors to promote bone regeneration. These technologies promise to provide significant relief to people suffering from bone loss due to traumatic injury and diseases such as osteoporosis and bone cancer.
Dr. Kumta also created new biodegradable metallic alloys for use in tracheal stents and bone fixation devices. His work in tissue engineering is also helping to create customized implant tissue scaffolds for patients.
He has also developed impedimetric biosensors for sensing blood-based biomarkers for detecting cardiovascular disease conditions akin to the currently used glucose sensor. The versatile platform can also be used for detecting traumatic brain injury as well as immunosuppressive drugs for vascular composite allotransplantation or organ transplant patients.
Dr. Kumta has been issued 42 patents for his innovations, many of which were licensed to international companies such as Changs Ascending Enterprise Company. Kumta’ s several innovations in the biotechnology and energy areas have also sparked interest from numerous companies such as Biobone LLC, Formabone, LLC, InCube Labs, and Flexcellz, Inc.
He is also developing the next generation of innovators, having served as mentor to 45 pre-doctoral graduate students and 34 postdoctoral researchers.
“Drs. Sahel and Kumta come from very different research fields, but they both share characteristics of illustrious Pitt innovators past and present,” said Evan Facher, Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Associate Dean for Commercial Translation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “They do not limit themselves to a single approach to solving a problem and they are committed to translating scientific discoveries into real-world products and services that make a difference in people’s lives.”
The 2023 Fellow class hails from 118 research universities, governmental and non-profit research institutions worldwide. This class includes 89 individuals from the Association of American Universities (AAU) institutions and 128 individuals from R1 universities that boast very high research activity. Collectively, the 2023 Fellows hold more than 4,600 issued U.S. patents.
The work was supported by funds from the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under grant number DE-FG02-90ER45438. The University of Pittsburgh Center for Research Computing provided computational facilities.