Issue Date: January 21, 2013
Ronald Breslow Award For Achievement In Biomimetic Chemistry
Sponsored by the Ronald Breslow Award Endowment
A leader in supramolecular self-assembly, Samuel I. Stupp is being honored for his work on developing bioactive materials that could revolutionize therapies in regenerative medicine. Stupp is well-known for creating an extensive platform of self-assembling molecules, especially those based on peptide amphiphiles that form nanofibers, resulting in broadly bioactive synthetic materials.
“Molecules created by Stupp can be tailored for specific cell-signaling events that promote regenerative processes,” says E. W. (Bert) Meijer, a professor of molecular sciences and organic chemistry at Eindhoven University of Technology, in the Netherlands. They have been found to promote regeneration of axons in damaged spinal cords, knee-joint cartilage, bone in a femoral defect, dental enamel in embryonic teeth, and blood vessels in heart tissue and limb muscle, Meijer notes. More recently, Stupp’s supramolecular structures “have been found to enhance functional recovery in the reserpine model of parkinsonian mice.”
Stupp, a professor of chemistry, materials science, and medicine at Northwestern University, is currently developing supramolecular systems that coassemble with biopolymers to form membranes that can act as scaffolds for artificial cells. He is also developing ordered gels that mimic the aligned extracellular matrix of tissues such as muscle, heart, and brain and supramolecular assemblies that can be used to target and deliver cardiovascular therapies to specific tissues. His systems are in development for clinical trials.
The supramolecular biomimetic assemblies developed by Stupp are able to signal cells in regenerative processes in an unprecedented fashion, say experts familiar with his work. The structures self-assemble in situ around cells, creating an artificial matrix around the cells that can bind ligands or proteins for receptor signaling. Stupp’s work in biomimetic chemistry “is an example of what chemistry could contribute to future medicine beyond the traditional pharmaceuticals,” says Robert H. Grubbs, a professor of chemistry at California Institute of Technology.
Stupp was one of the first people to introduce the use of self-assembly with designed molecules to create “bulk” functional materials, says Roeland J. M. Nolte, an organic chemistry professor at Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. “His work evolved from organic materials to organic-inorganic hybrids, and then over the past decade to his groundbreaking biomimetic chemistry platform of cell-signaling biomaterials for regenerative medicine.”
Stupp’s interest in chemistry dates back to his early days with inspiring teachers when he was growing up in Costa Rica and later in college at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has received 33 patents, published more than 300 papers, and has earned numerous awards. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Dévora; family; and friends and enjoys all forms of art and worldwide travel.
Stupp will present the award address before the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry.
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