Acs Award For Creative Invention | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 1 | p. 33 | Awards
Issue Date: January 2, 2012

ACS Award For Creative Invention

Department: ACS News | Collection: Entrepreneurs
Keywords: awards
Credit: Northwestern University
 Chad Mirkin, professor of chemistry, Northwestern University
Credit: Northwestern University

Sponsored by ACS Corporation Associates

Many scientists have made major scientific advances in the nanotechnology field, but few have transitioned them into technological applications with lasting impact, says University of Utah chemistry professor Peter J. Stang. Northwestern University’s Chad A. Mirkin is one of those few, and it’s for this reason that he is being recognized.

“With the tour de force work he has done in the area of nanoparticle-based biodiagnostics, Mirkin is at the top of this list,” Stang says. “His technology has been disseminated throughout the world in over 30 commercial products, and it continues to fuel the development of many fields, including chemistry, biology, medicine, and materials science.”

Mirkin, 48, is director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern. There, he is the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry and also holds positions in the departments of medicine, biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering, and chemical and biological engineering.

A recognized leader in nanotechnology, Mirkin’s discoveries have resulted in several key technologies. In particular, the award acknowledges the invention of spherical nucleic acid (SNA) nanoparticle conjugates. Used for protein and nucleic acid detection, this work established the modern field of nanoparticle-based biodiagnostics.

As an entrepreneur, Mirkin has created companies to translate his inventions into products. The DNA-nanoparticle conjugates are the technological foundation for Nanosphere’s Verigene System. The FDA-cleared medical diagnostic tool is used to test for genetic and infectious diseases and to predict drug metabolism.

His work on dip-pen nanolithography led to the founding of NanoInk, which has products for microchip repair, protein detection, and product authentication, as well as for research and educational uses. Mirkin recently founded AuraSense to develop therapeutic and cell-imaging applications using SNAs as powerful new single-entity gene-regulating and -probing agents.

“He is a pioneer who has been recognized by his colleagues around the world as one of the most inventive, productive, and creative figures in the field,” says chemistry and chemical engineering professor Joseph M. DeSimone of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “Throughout his career, Mirkin has demonstrated the rare ability to think outside the box; create new fields; communicate the potential of his discoveries to diverse audiences with extraordinary spirit and enthusiasm; and, in the process, develop technological paradigm shifts that are having a profound impact on people all over the world.”

Mirkin received a B.S. in chemistry from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. He completed his graduate work in inorganic and organic chemistry at Pennsylvania State University and postdoctoral work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1991, he began his academic career at Northwestern.

He has more than 470 scientific articles and 100 patents to his name and is widely called upon as an invited lecturer and consultant. His work has been recognized through more than 70 national and international awards. In October 2010, he was named to the Institute of Medicine, after having been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering. At the time, he was the 10th person to be elected to all three branches of the National Academies.

Mirkin will present the award address before the ACS Division of Colloid & Surface Chemistry.

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