Areas of Expertise:
Chemistry and chemical engineering • Entrepreneurship • Diversity • Innovation • Nanomedicine and medical devices • Technology transfer and commercialization • Venture finance and federal research grants
Joseph M. DeSimone is the Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC and William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at N.C. State University and of Chemistry at UNC. He was named Kenan Institute director in July 2012 and heads the DeSimone Research Group at UNC.
World-renowned chemistry scholar, innovator and entrepreneur, DeSimone has applied his research to design novel nanomedicines for cancer therapy, improve vaccines and drug delivery mechanisms and create successful new commercial ventures based on his discoveries.
DeSimone's research focuses on applying lithographic fabrication technologies from the computer industry for the design and synthesis of new medicines and vaccines. He is author of nearly 300 publications, inventor on more than 130 patents and has more than 100 patents pending.
In 2004, DeSimone and his students invented a new technology to create nanoparticles using a process they coined as PRINT (Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates). With PRINT, DeSimone and his team were the first to successfully adapt manufacturing techniques from the computer industry to make advances in medicine, including improved approaches to cancer treatment and diagnosis. Other projects include developing nanoparticle vaccines for infectious diseases, vaccines for cancer and particles that mimic red blood cells.
DeSimone co-founded Liquidia Technologies, a Research Triangle-based nanotechnology company, to further develop the PRINT technology. Liquidia has its first product – a nanoparticle flu vaccine – in clinical trials.
In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested $10 million in Liquidia Technologies – the foundation's first-ever equity investment in a biotech company – as part of a move to help make vaccines more affordable and improve global health outcomes.
Liquidia in June 2012 announced the initiation of a multiyear collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline potentially worth several hundred million dollars. The efforts of the two companies as a result of this agreement could lead to the development of multiple life-saving health-care products.
DeSimone is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, an adjunct member at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and director of the Institute for Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Technology and the Institute for Nanomedicine at UNC. He has been elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honors that a U.S. scientist or engineer can receive.
He received a bachelor of science in chemistry degree from Ursinus College in 1986 and a doctorate in chemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1990.