Distinguished Speaker: Joseph DeSimone

Photo of Joseph DeSimone

Joseph DeSimone
Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Co-opting Moore’s Law: Vaccines, Medicines and Interfacially-Active Particles Made on a Wafer

Joseph DeSimone, Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Joseph DeSimone spoke on Friday, March 4th, 2011 at 1:00PM in Engineering Building II, Room 1021

In 1965, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, described the trend that the number of components in integrated circuits had doubled every year since 1958. This trend has continued to today, enabled by advances in photolithography which has taken the minimum feature size of transistors down from about 10 microns in 1970 to 0.045 microns (45 nm) today. In biological terms, this corresponds to going from the size of a red blood cell to the size of a single virus particle! As such, this top-down nano-fabrication technology from the semiconductor industry is, for the first time, in the size range to be relevant for the design of medicines, vaccines and interfacially active Janus particles. This lecture will describe the design, synthesis and efficacy of organic nano- and micro-particles using a top-down nano-fabrication technique we developed called PRINT (Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates). PRINT is a continuous, roll-to-roll, high resolution molding technique that allows the fabrication of precisely defined micro- and nano-particles in a continuous manner with control over chemical composition, size, shape, deformability and surface chemistry. Examples to be described will include the design of PRINT particles useful as vaccines (influenza, H1N1, pneumo), targeted chemotherapy agents, anti-bacterials, inhalation therapeutics and even as an entirely new class of particle-based surfactants.

Joseph DeSimone is 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. DeSimone is also an Adjunct Member of the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research 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 over 120 patents pending. 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, the 2009 NIH Director's Pioneer Award; the 2009 North Carolina Award; the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention and Innovation; the 2008 Tar Heel of the Year by the Raleigh News & Observer; 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 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, enrolling over 1000 patients as of November 2009, for the treatment of coronary artery disease. DeSimone's group is now heavily focused on learning how to bring 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 almost 50 people in RTP and has raised over $30 million in venture financing. DeSimone's laboratory and the PRINT technology recently became a foundation for the new $32 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, PA and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1990 from Virginia Tech.