By Pamela Martineau
Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Jozef Stec, PhD, maintains a two-fold mission at Marshall B. Ketchum University’s College of Pharmacy: He wants to help students become independent scholars while he develops new treatments for tuberculosis and other diseases.
This is no small order, but Dr. Stec is known for aiming high in both his teaching and his scientific research. Dr. Stec is a medicinal chemist who is interested in designing and developing new treatments for diseases, particularly T.B., malaria and cystic fibrosis.
“Mankind is basically plagued with a variety of diseases, some are very new, and some are old,” says Dr. Stec. “My dream is to meaningfully contribute to a contemporary global effort in disease prevention and control.”
Dr. Stec says the need for new medicinal treatments is heightened by increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotic treatments, not only for T.B., but other infectious diseases as well.
“Rapidly increasing bacterial resistance is a real global challenge,” he says, adding that it is a problem in developing and well-developed countries.
Students Join Researcher in the Lab
In addition to teaching medicinal chemistry and biochemistry at MBKU’s College of Pharmacy, Dr. Stec conducts research in the College’s state-of-the-art lab into medicinal treatments for various diseases. Three students assist him in what he calls this “real-world drug discovery project.”
It is important to Dr. Stec that students join him in his research and that he broaden their knowledge in the classroom, because he wants to help mold medical professional leaders for the future. He seeks to do this both in the lab and in the classroom.
“I aspire to engage students in their learning and knowledge creation process, and professionally mentor them to become future leaders of health care,” says Dr. Stec.
Since joining the College of Pharmacy in 2015, Dr. Stec says he has been inspired by the students, faculty, and MBKU leadership.
“I am really enthralled by the fact that the students are ambitious with bright minds, diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” says Dr. Stec.
From Poland to Southern California
Dr. Stec was born and raised in Poland and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in molecular and pharmaceutical biotechnology at Gdansk University of Technology in Poland. He went on to earn his PhD at the University of Southampton in England and did his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He joined the faculty at the College of Pharmacy at Chicago State University after his postdoctoral work.
When he learned of the opportunity at MBKU’s College of Pharmacy, he immediately applied.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to make an impact and actually help shape a brand new pharmacy program,” says Dr. Stec.
MBKU’s student-centered learning and emphasis on interprofessional education is one of the key reasons Dr. Stec chose to work at the school.
“This is the future of health care education,” he says.
Dr. Stec says he feels privileged to be part of the “MBKU family.”
Dr. Stec says he enjoys living in Southern California. His home – with his wife from Colombia and his two sons, 3 and 5 – is tri-bilingual. His wife and children mostly speak Spanish and are teaching him the language, while he works to sometimes teach them Polish. English also is spoken.
The family recently bought a 10-gallon tank and some Molly fish and his boys are learning about the feeding and caring of fish.
As for hobbies outside of the rigors of teaching, research and family life, Dr. Stec says he still is interested in philately – the collection and study of stamps and postal history. He surmises that he gained this interest in Poland where his mother was manager of the post office.
He is enthralled with the beauty of postage stamps.
“It is like little art,” he says.