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Joseph M. DeSimone

Professor Professor Chancellor's Eminent Professor

Joseph M. DeSimone, Ph.D.


(919) 962-2166
Department Of Chemistry, 257 Caudill Labs, CB# 3290, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599

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).


  • Applying the lithographic fabrication technologies from the computer industry for the design and synthesis of new medicines and vaccines
  • Nanomedicine
  • Interventional oncology
  • Fluoropolymers: photolithography, batteries, microfluidics, minimally adhesive surfaces
  • Medical devices
  • Colloid, surfactant and surface chemistry
  • New 3D Printing strategies
  • Role of diversity in innovation
  • Entrepreneurship from research-intensive universities
  • Public – private partnerships

 Awards and Honors

  • Elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences (2012)
  • 2012 Walston Chubb Award for Innovation, presented by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, to honor and promote creativity in science and engineering.
  • Named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International “in appreciation of tangible and significance assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world”
  • Chair, Gordon Research Conference on Drug Carriers in Medicine and Biology (2012)

  • 2011 Mendel Medal from Villanova University
  • 2011 Harrison Howe Award by the Rochester Section of the American Chemical Society
  • 2011 PMSE Fellow, Division of Polymeric Material Science and Engineering, American Chemical Society

  • 2010 AAAS Mentor Award, recognizing members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science who have mentored significant numbers of students from underrepresented groups towards a Ph.D. in the sciences or who have changed the climate of a department, college or institution to significantly increase the diversity of students completing doctoral studies in the sciences.
  • 2010 Founding POLY Fellow, Division of Polymer Chemistry, American Chemical Society

  • 2009 recipient of the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award
  • 2009 recipient of the North Carolina Award, the highest honor the State of North Carolina can bestow to recognize notable achievements of North Carolinians in the fields of Literature, Science, the Fine Arts and Public Service
  • 2009 Distinguished Graduate Alumni Achievement Award, Virginia Tech
  • 2009 Tar Heel of the Year, selected by undergraduates at the school newspaper

  • 2008 recipient of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize
  • Named 2008 Tar Heel of the Year by the Raleigh News & Observer
  • 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

  • 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. 2006 Award for Entrepreneurship by ACS Div. of Business Development & Management

  • Elected Member of the National Academy of Engineering (2005) – Materials Engineering Peer Committee Member 2006-2009
  • Elected Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2005)
  • 2005 Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Life Science Spin-out of the Year for Liquidia Technologies
  • 2005 American Chemical Society Award for Creative Invention

  • 2002 John Scott Award presented by the City Trusts, Philadelphia, given to “the most deserving” men and women whose inventions have contributed in some outstanding way to the “comfort, welfare and happiness” of mankind
  • 2002 Engineering Excellence Award by DuPont for Successful Commercialization of Supercritical CO2 Polymerization Plant at DuPont Fayetteville Works
  • 2002 Wallace H. Carothers Award from the Delaware Section of the American Chemical Society to honor scientific innovators who have made outstanding contributions and advances in industrial applications of chemistry

  • Ernst & Young 2001 Entrepreneur of the Year in Technology (Carolinas)
  • 2001 Inventor of the Year Award from the Triangle Intellectual Property Law Association
  • 2001 Governor’s Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award for Micell Technologies
  • 2001 Esselen Award for Chemistry in the Public Interest to recognize a chemist for outstanding achievement in scientific and technical work that contributes to the public well-being
  • 2001 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association

  • 2000 Oliver Max Garner Award from the University of North Carolina, given to that person, who in the opinion of the Board of Governors’ Committee, “. . . during the current scholastic year, has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”
  • Phi Beta Kappa (Tau of Pennsylvania Chapter at Ursinus College)

  • 1999 Fresenius Award of the PHI LAMBDA UPSILON Honorary Chemical Society, presented annually to an outstanding young scientist who has attained national recognition in the areas of research and teaching
  • Carl S. Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award (1999), presented annually to recognize accomplishments and/or innovation of unusual merit in the field of basic or applied polymer science by younger scientists
  • Runner-up, 1999 Tarheel of the Year Award (with Elizabeth Dole, Mia Hamm, and Bob Young of Red Hat)
  • Honorary Doctorate of Science from Ursinus College (1999)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (1998-2001)
  • R&D 100 Award with Micell Technologies (1998)
  • Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (1997) in recognition of outstanding chemical technologies (Surfactants for CO2) that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use Governor’s Award for Excellence (1997)
  • Chancellor’s Award for Excellence (1997)
  • 1995 Waldo Semon Award Lecturer, The University of Akron
  • 1995 Charles H. Stone Award
  • 1993 Presidential Faculty Fellow Award from the National Science Foundation
  • 1993 Philip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement
  • 1992 National Science Foundation Young Investigator – Division of Materials Research