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Joseph M  DeSimone

Joseph M DeSimone

  • BS, PhD
  • Molecular Therapeutics

  • Chancellors Eminent Professor of Chemistry
  • UNC-Chapel Hill
  • desimone@unc.edu
  • 919-962-2166
  • 257 Caudill Labs Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3290

Area of Interest

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 CO2: new polymers, interfacial science and colloids, reaction kinetics and engineering, green chemistry.

Research Synopsis:
The recent breakthroughs in the DeSimone laboratories using specifically-designed materials for imprint lithography have enabled an extremely versatile and flexible method for the direct fabrication and harvesting of monodisperse, shape-specific nano-biomaterials. The method, referred to as Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates, or PRINT, allows for the fabrication of monodisperse particles with simultaneous control over structure (i.e. shape, size, composition) and function (i.e. cargo, surface structure).

Unlike other particle fabrication techniques, PRINT is delicate and general enough to be compatible with a variety of important next-generation cancer therapeutic, detection and imaging agents, including various cargos (e.g. DNA, proteins, chemotherapy drugs, biosensor dyes, radio-markers, contrast agents), targeting ligands (e.g. antibodies, cell targeting peptides) and functional matrix materials (e.g. bioabsorbable polymers, stimuli responsive matrices, etc).

PRINT particles are presently being designed to reach new understandings and therapies in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Early detection via targeted delivery of the imaging agent goes hand in hand with these new directions. Cellular targeting can be accomplished by attaching cell-specific ligands to the surface of the PRINT particle. Potential cell-specific ligands include the integrin receptor peptide (GRGDSP), melanocyte stimulating hormone, vasoactive intestional peptide, anti-Her2 mouse antibodies, cell-penetrating peptides, and a variety of vitamins.

Once targeted with a cell specific ligand, the PRINT particle can be delivered and imaged at the desired site. In this respect, PRINT particles promise great potential, since it is possible to utilize the ability to specifically target, be shape and size-specific, possess tunable matrixes, as well as the ability to incorporate imaging contrast agents. The PRINT technology from our lab is playing an integral part in the NIH PPG as well as the newly awarded Carolina Cancer Center of Nanotechnology Excellence Grants.

Awards and Honors

  • 2010 AAAS Mentor Award recognizing mentorship of students from underrepresented groups toward completion of PhDs in the sciences
  • 2011 Mendel Medal from Villanova University
  • 2011 recipient of the Harrison Howe Award by the Rochester Section of the American Chemical Society
  • 2009 recipient of North Carolina Award for Science
  • 2009 recipient of NIH Director's Pioneer Award
  • 2008 recipient of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize
  • Named one of the "One Hundred Engineers of the Modern Era" by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) marking the 100th Anniversary of the AIChE Business Leader Magazine "2007/2008 Impact Entrepreneur of the Year for the Triangle"
  • 2008 Inductee into the Order of the Golden Fleece, the oldest honor society of its kind in the nation (since 1904) and the most prestigious honor society at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 2007 Collaboration Success Award from The Council for Chemical Research
  • 2006 Elected, College of Fellows, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
  • 2006 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2006 H.F. Whalen, Jr. Award for Entrepreneurship by ACS Div. of Business Development & Management