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Joseph M. DeSimone, Ph.D. - 2011

Joseph M. DeSimone, Ph.D. - 2011

Biographical Information Courtesy of DeSimone Research Group

Joseph M. DeSimone, Ph.D., 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, has been named the 2011 Mendel medalist. DeSimone also is an adjunct member at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. DeSimone has published over 270 scientific articles and has over 115 issued patents in his name with more than 120 patents pending.

Dr. DeSimone will deliver the annual Mendel Medal Lecture, "Co-opting Moore's Law: Vaccines and Medicines Made From a Wafer," on Friday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m., in the Villanova Room of Connely Center. All are welcome to attend.

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 is awarded to outstanding scientists who have done much by their painstaking work to advance the cause of science, and, by their lives and their standing before the world as scientists, have demonstrated that between true science and true religion there is no intrinsic conflict.

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.

More About Dr. DeSimone
In 2005, DeSimone was elected into the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 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; the 2009 North Carolina Award, the highest honor the State of North Carolina can bestow to recognize notable achievements of North Carolinians in the fields of Literature, Science, the Fine Arts and Public Service; the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention and Innovation; the 2008 Tar Heel of the Year by the Raleigh News & Observer; the 2007 Collaboration Success Award from the Council for Chemical Research; the 2005 ACS Award for Creative Invention; the 2002 John Scott Award presented by the City Trusts, Philadelphia, given to “the most deserving” men and women whose inventions have contributed in some outstanding way to the “comfort, welfare and happiness” of mankind; the 2002 Engineering Excellence Award by DuPont; the 2002 Wallace H. Carothers Award from the Delaware Section of the ACS; 2000 Oliver Max Gardner Award from the University of North Carolina, given to that person, who in the opinion of the Board of Governors’ Committee, “. . . during the current scholastic year, has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”

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 (, 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.

Current Research Interests: Applying the lithographic fabrication technologies from the computer industry for the design and synthesis of new medicines and vaccines; Nanomedicine; Interventional oncology; Fluoropolymers: photolithography, fuel cells, microfluidics, minimally adhesive surfaces; Medical devices; Colloid, surfactant and surface chemistry; Patterning surfaces, manipulation of light; Polymer synthesis and processing in carbon dioxide: new polymers, interfacial science and colloids, reaction kinetics and engineering, green chemistry.