Villanova University Awards 2011 Mendel Medal to Joseph M. DeSimone, PhD

A scientist and scholar, DeSimone has been recognized both for his research and inventions, as well as his efforts to advance diversity in the chemistry PhD workforce

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University has awarded its 2011 Mendel Medal to Joseph M. DeSimone, PhD, a scientist and scholar recognized both for his research and inventions, as well as his efforts to advance diversity in the chemistry PhD workforce. DeSimone currently serves as the Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University. He also is an adjunct member at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. DeSimone has been He has published over 270 scientific articles and has over 115 issued patents in his name with more than 120 patents pending.

Established in 1928, the Mendel Medal honors pioneers in the sciences and is awarded to “outstanding scientists who have advanced the cause of science, and, by their lives and their scientific standing before the world, have demonstrated that no intrinsic conflict exists between true science and true religion.”

Dr. DeSimone will deliver the annual Mendel Medal Lecture, "Co-opting Moore's Law: Vaccines and Medicines Made From a Wafer," Friday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m., in the Villanova Room of Connely Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Honoring Pioneers in the Sciences

The Mendel Medal was established at Villanova in honor of Gregor Johann Mendel Abbot of the Augustinian Monastery, Brünn, Austria, (now Brno, the Czech Republic), who discovered the celebrated laws of heredity which now bear his name.

The Mendel Medal was established in 1928 by the Board of Trustees of Villanova University to recognize scientific accomplishment and religious conviction. The Medal was first awarded in 1929 and given annually until 1943. Between 1946 and 1968, the Medal was awarded eight times. After a hiatus of twenty-five years, it was reestablished in 1992 as part of the Villanova University's Sesquicentennial Celebrations. Past recipients have included Nobel Laureates, outstanding medical researchers, pioneers in physics, astrophysics and chemistry, and noted scientist-theologians.

About Dr. DeSimone

DeSimone has received 40 major awards and recognitions including the 2010 AAAS Mentor Award in recognition of his efforts to advance diversity in the chemistry PhD workforce; the 2009 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award; and the Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention and Innovation. In 2005, DeSimone was elected into the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Among DeSimone’s notable inventions is an environmentally friendly manufacturing process that relies on supercritical carbon dioxide instead of water and bio-persistent surfactants (detergents) for the creation of fluoropolymers or high-performance plastics, such as Teflon®.

In 2002, DeSimone, along with Dr. Richard Stack, a cardiologist at Duke, co-founded Bioabsorbable Vascular Solutions (BVS) to commercialize a fully bioabsorbable, drug-eluting stent. BVS was acquired by Guidant Corporation in 2003 and these stents are now being evaluated in a series of international clinical trials led by Abbott, enrolling over 1000 patients as of November 2009, for the treatment of coronary artery disease.

With the PRINT technology developed in the DeSimone lab, DeSimone’s group is now heavily focused on bringing the precision, uniformity, and mass production techniques associated with the fabrication of nanoscale features found in the microelectronics industry to the nano-medicine field for the fabrication and delivery of vaccines and therapeutics for the treatment and prevention of diseases.

DeSimone recently launched Liquidia Technologies (www.liquidia.com), which now employs roughly 50 people in RTP and has raised over $50 million in venture financing. DeSimone’s laboratory and the PRINT technology recently became a foundation for the new $20 million Carolina Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence funded by the National Cancer Institute. DeSimone received his BS in Chemistry in 1986 from Ursinus College in Collegeville, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1990 from Virginia Tech.

For more information on the Mendel Medal visit: www.villanova.edu/artsci/college/about/awards/mendelmedal/