Joseph DeSimone receives $250,000 Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine

Joseph M. DeSimone, Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been named the recipient of the inaugural $250,000 Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine for his invention and use of PRINT, a breakthrough technology that has been used to make advances toward the development of new cancer treatments, inhalable therapeutics and next generation vaccines for malaria, pneumonia and dengue.

Northwestern University’s International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN) established the Kabiller Prize earlier this year to recognize outstanding achievements in the field of nanotechnology and its application to biology and medicine. It was made possible through a generous donation from Northwestern trustee and alumnus David G. Kabiller, a co-founder of AQR Capital Management, a global investment management firm in Greenwich, Conn.

“The invention of PRINT and its application to medicine captures the vision of the Kabiller Prize as well as Carolina’s deep commitment to translating ideas into real-world applications,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “Joseph DeSimone and his students embody that culture and as a result, shine a light on the great promise of nanomedicine and its ability to improve the lives of so many.”

Joseph DeSimone
Joseph DeSimone

The technology, called Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates, or PRINT for short, enables the fabrication of precisely defined, shape-specific nanoparticles for advances in disease treatment and prevention. PRINT adapts manufacturing techniques used in the computer industry to give scientists an unprecedented ability to make nanoparticles with independent control over size, shape, flexibility, composition and surface chemistry.

Since inventing PRINT in 2005 DeSimone and his students from UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State have made advances in using tailored PRINT nanoparticles toward the development of new treatments for cancer, cystic fibrosis, asthma, malaria and other diseases.

“PRINT continues to be developed for many different applications to improve human health, and my students are leading that charge,” said DeSimone. “This recognition is really a testament to their brilliant efforts.”

DeSimone founded a startup company based on PRINT called Liquidia Technologies (Research Triangle Park, N.C.) that is building on promising vaccine clinical trial results. The company already has spun out two more companies to use PRINT to improve human health, one in ophthalmology and one in oral health.

DeSimone, who is also the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at NC State and of Chemistry in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, is currently on sabbatical leave to lead his new company, Carbon3D, in Silicon Valley. Carbon3D is developing a new 3D printing technology invented by DeSimone and colleagues, which can fabricate objects significantly faster than current state-of-the-art 3D printers.

“Joe is a Renaissance scientist who has made some of the most important advances in the field of nanomedicine,” said Chad A. Mirkin, director of IIN and the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern. DeSimone will be publically recognized with the Kabiller Prize during the 2015 IIN Symposium on Oct. 1 in Evanston, Illinois.