Skip to main content

Dr. DeSimone Receives the National Medal of Technology and Innovation

desimone-obama-wpOn May 19th, Dr. Joe DeSimone received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama. The medal is the Nation’s highest honor for achievement and leadership in advancing the field of technology.

DeSimone won the award for “pioneering innovations in material science that led to the development of technologies in diverse fields from manufacturing to medicine; and for innovative and inclusive leadership in higher education and entrepreneurship.” During the awards ceremony, seventeen of the nation’s top scientists and innovators received either the National Medal of Science or the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by statute in 1980 and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office. The award “recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the Nation’s technological workforce.”

In 2002, DeSimone, Dr. Richard Stack (Duke University) and Dr. Robert Langer (MIT), co-founded Bioabsorbable Vascular Solutions (BVS) to commercialize a fully bioabsorbable, drug-eluting stent. Following several corporate acquisitions, BVS stent technology was sold to Abbott Laboratories. The stent achieved approval for marketing in Europe in 2011 and is currently being further evaluated in a series of international clinical trials led by Abbott for treatment of coronary artery disease.

In 2004, DeSimone’s research group developed a roll-to-roll particle fabrication technology called PRINT (Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates). The advantages of PRINT are now being exploited to generate “calibration quality” nano-tools to define the geometric and deformability limitations associated with delivery of drugs and vaccines using different dosage forms. DeSimone’s laboratory and the PRINT technology became a foundation for the Carolina Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Also in 2004, DeSimone launched Liquidia Technologies. Liquidia recently brought its first product, a seasonal influenza vaccine based on PRINT particles, into clinical trials. The company has spun out two other companies, Envisia Therapeutics and LQ3 Pharma, to use PRINT to improve human health in ophthalmology (ET) and in oral health (LQ3).

Most recently, his group developed a new 3D printing technology, Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP). As Dr. DeSimone described during his TED2015 talk, CLIP uses a tuneable photochemical process instead of the traditional mechanical approach to rapidly transform 3D models into final parts in a range of engineering-grade materials. The technology was developed at Carbon3D, Inc., a company co-founded by DeSimone, Alex Ermoshkin (Carbon3D), and Prof. Ed Samulski (UNC-CH).

CLIP was one of several technologies the editors of Popular Science magazine selected for its 2016 Invention Award. In announcing the Award, the editors describe Dr. DeSimone as “a serial entrepreneur.”

The DeSimone Lab operates based on the idea that diversity is a fundamental tenet to innovation. Over the past twenty years, more than half of Professor DeSimone’s Ph.D. graduates have been from underrepresented groups in science and engineering fields. DeSimone’s 56 total Ph.D. graduates include 28 women, 6 African American students, and 1 Hispanic student. Additionally, of the 55 postdoctoral scholars that have come through Professor DeSimone’s lab, over 40% have been from underrepresented groups.

Dr. DeSimone is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NCSU, and Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC-CH. He has published more than 300 scientific articles, and holds more than 150 patents, with over 80 additional patents pending. He’s also one of very few people who are members of the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.

Congratulations Dr. DeSimone!