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Faculty - Joseph DeSimone

Joseph DeSimone photo
bullet Chancellor's Eminent Professor (Chemistry, UNC Chapel Hill)
bullet William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor (Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, NCSU)
bullet Director, UNC Institute for Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Technology
bullet National Academy of Engineering (2005)
bullet National Academy of Sciences (2012)
bullet Institute of Medicine (2014)

B.S. Chemistry, Ursinus College (1986)
Ph.D. Chemistry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1990)
desimone (@unc.edu)
919-962-2166 (phone)
919-515-3465 (fax)
UNC Chapel Hill - CB# 3290
Caudill Labs - 257 (office)
bullet Honors & Awards
bullet Publications
bullet Patents
bullet Research Website

bullet Liquidia Technologies

Focus Areas
Exploring the potential for Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) to be used in the fabrication of very small defined structures for medical applications; Applying the lithographic fabrication technologies from the computer industry for the design and synthesis of new medicines and vaccines; Nanomedicine; Interventional oncology; Medical devices; Inhalable therapeutics; Fluoropolymers: photolithography, fuel cells, microfluidics, minimally adhesive surfaces; 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; Process engineering.

Current Projects
The recent breakthroughs in the DeSimone laboratories using specifically-designed materials for imprint or soft 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).

Oncology: In conjunction with the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the DeSimone group is focused on designing and evaluating novel nanomedicines for cancer therapy. PRINT nanoparticles can be fabricated into numerous shapes and sizes including nano-cylinders, nano-rods or long filamentous "worm-like" nanoparticles. The unique control over size and shape leads to a variety of nano-materials that can accumulate in specific tissues or diseased sites. Moreover, once the nanoparticle reaches the desired tissue it can be engineered to release a therapeutic at a specific rate and dosage. Techniques that increase the in vivo circulation, and therefore enhance the delivery of a nanoparticle to a tumor are being explored. For example, the surface of a PRINT nanoparticle can be decorated with "stealth" units, which are known to evade routes of elimination. Additionally, by changing the chemical make-up of the nanoparticle, the group can generate an extremely soft and deformable material capable of passing through small pores that exist in tissues like the liver and spleen.

The ability to simultaneously change the size, shape, surface properties and chemical composition of a nanoparticle is unique to the PRINT process. The manipulation of these physical properties can increase the therapeutic index of a drug, reduce side effects and improve patient compliance.

Respiratory: The DeSimone lab is also investigating various routes of administration for PRINT particles. Improved drug delivery to the lung through inhalation represents a promising opportunity for the treatment of many pulmonary and systemic diseases. Through control of particle size, shape and composition, PRINT aerosols offer improved dose uniformity of excipient-free aerosols. With this platform, the DeSimone group is exploring the effect of particle shape on powder entrainment and airway deposition, as well as opportunities for the targeting or de-targeting of airway macrophages.

Vaccines: PRINT particles are being pursued to co-deliver antigens and adjuvants as highly effective particulate vaccines for cancer immunotherapy and treatment of infectious diseases. Micro- and nano-sized particles have shown great promise in vaccine development both as carriers and as particulate adjuvants. PRINT particles with biocompatible materials are designed to efficiently adsorb or incorporate antigens (proteins, peptides, or nucleic acids) and various adjuvants (e.g. TLR ligands). Furthermore, tailoring the surface chemistry, size and shape of PRINT particles may greatly help in the targeting of lymphatic systems to achieve desired immune responses in a cost-effective way.

Colloids: For over a generation, researchers have utilized suspensions of monodisperse colloids as model systems to address questions concerning the assembly and structure of materials. Suspensions comprised of spherical colloids have long been the system of choice in large part because, until recently, the sphere was one of the few shapes that could be synthesized as monodisperse in large quantities. The recent vision that anisotropically shaped colloids may lead to an entirely new class of materials has caused a paradigm shift in the field. The advent of PRINT places the DeSimone group at the forefront of the colloidal assembly community with the unique ability to synthesize monodisperse colloids with unparalleled control over their shape, size and composition. The DeSimone group is currently using PRINT particles and leveraging fundamental interactions such as depletion, hydrophilic-hydrophobic, etc. to study new physics, create functional materials and produce new colloidal building blocks en route to next-generation materials.

Honors & Awards
bullet 2016 National Medal of Technology and Innovation
bullet 2015 Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine
bullet 2015 Dickson Prize for Science from Carnegie Mellon University
bullet 2014 Elected Member of the Institute of Medicine
bullet 2014 Industrial Research Institute (IRI) Medal
bullet 2014 Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success from the American Chemical Society
bullet 2012 Elected Fellow of the American Chemical Society
bullet 2012 Elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences
bullet 2012 Sigma Xi Walston Chubb Award for Innovation
bullet 2011 Mendel Medal from Villanova University
bullet 2011 American Chemical Society Harrison Howe Award
bullet 2010 AAAS Mentor Award
bullet 2009 North Carolina Award - highest civilian honor the state bestows
bullet 2009 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pioneer Award
bullet 2008 Tar Heel of the Year
bullet 2008 Lemelson-MIT Prize
bullet 2008 "One Hundred Engineers of the Modern Era" - American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
bullet 2007/2008 Business Leader Magazine's Impact Entrepreneur of the Year for the Triangle
bullet 2007 Collaboration Success Award from The Council for Chemical Research
bullet 2007 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
bullet 2007 Elected, College of Fellows, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
bullet 2006 H. F. Whalen, Jr. Award for Entrepreneurship by ACS Div. of Business Development & Management
bullet 2005 Elected Member of the National Academy of Engineering
bullet 2005 Elected Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
bullet 2005 Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Life Science Spin-out of the Year for Liquidia Technologies
bullet 2005 Award for Creative Invention from the American Chemical Society
bullet 2005 DARPA Defense Council Research Award
bullet 2002 Wallace H. Carothers Award from the Delaware Section of the ACS
bullet 2002 Engineering Excellence Award by DuPont for Successful Commercialization of Supercritical CO2
bullet 2002 John Scott Award presented by the City Trusts, Philadelphia
bullet 2001 ACS Esselen Award for Chemistry in the Public Interest
bullet 2001 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association
bullet 2001 Governor's Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award for Micell Technologies
bullet 2001 Inventor of the Year Award from the Triangle Intellectual Property Law Association
bullet 2001 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Technology (Carolinas)
bullet 1999 O. Max Gardner Award and the Phi Lambda Upsilon Fresenius Award
bullet 1999 Honorary Doctorate of Science from Ursinus College
bullet 1999 Runner-up Tarheel of the Year Award (with Elizabeth Dole, Mia Hamm, and Bob Young of Red Hat)
bullet 1999 Phi Beta Kappa (Tau of Pennsylvania Chapter at Ursinus College)
bullet 1999 C. S. Marvel Award from the ACS
bullet 1998-2001 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship
bullet 1998 R&D 100 Award with Micell Technologies