2008 Lemelson-MIT Prize Winner Presents Chemistry Seminar at Winthrop Johnsonian Article



February 18, 2009. Dr. Joseph DeSimone, Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented an inspiring talk today on “Engineered Drug Therapies Enabled by Fabrication Processes from the Electronics Industry” to an overflowing chemistry lecture room packed by more than 100 enthusiastic Winthrop chemistry students and faculty. Dr. DeSimone outlined how technology was now driving basic science research and described exciting applications of microelectronic fabrication techniques that were providing, for the first time in human history, monodispersed nanoparticles with specifically designed shapes, charges, sizes, and chemical properties to allow targeted drug delivery to cancer cells. The seminar was followed by a reception for Dr. DeSimone hosted by the Student Affiliate of the American Chemical Society (SAACS) and by the Winthrop student chapter of the National Organization for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)


This past June, Dr. DeSimone was selected as the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize winner for 2008.

In December, Dr Desimone was selected by the News and Observer as the “2008 Tar Heel of the Year.”



Dubbed the "Oscar for Inventors," the Lemelson-MIT Prize is awarded to outstanding mid-career inventors, who have developed a patented product or process of significant value to society, which has been adopted for practical use, or has a high probability of being adopted. The prize recognizes individuals who translate their ideas into inventions and innovations that improve the world in which we live.

A prolific inventor, DeSimone holds more than 115 issued patents with more than 70 new patent applications pending, and he has published more than 240 peer-reviewed scientific articles. Dr. DeSimone's inventions have led to the formation of several licensed processes or startup companies that involve the use of supercritical carbon dioxide to replace dry cleaning solvents, supercritical carbon dioxide for teflon production, bioabsorbable drug-eluting stents, and nanoparticle printing for nanocarriers of medicine to target organs.

Dr. DeSimone's research interests outlined on his research group page include "New strategies for the delivery of detection, imaging and therapeutic agents for the battle against human disease; Nanomedicine; Fluoropolymers: photolithography, fuel cells, microfluidics, minimally adhesive surfaces; Medical devices; Colloid, surfactant and surface chemistry; Particle Jamming and un-jamming; Polymer synthesis and processing in carbon dioxide: new polymers, interfacial science and colloids, reaction kinetics and engineering, green chemistry."

De DeSimone graduated from Ursinus College with a BS in Chemistry and completed his PhD in polymer chemistry at Virginia Tech in 1990.  Since 1990, he has been a member of the chemistry faculty at UNC Chapel Hill, where he started the University's polymer program.  Dr. DeSimone has mentored 52 Ph.D. candidates, six M.S. theses, 21 undergraduate researchers, and more than 45 postdoctoral research associates.

Dr. DeSimone is a tremendous advocate for diversity in science. In his own words: "There is no more fertile ground for innovation than a diversity of experience. And that diversity of experience arises from a difference of cultures, ethnicities, and life backgrounds. A successful scientific endeavor is one that attracts a diversity of experience, draws upon the breadth and depth of that experience, and cultivates those differences, acknowledging the creativity they spark."