Joe DeSimone, chemistry professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University, has won the Heinz Award, a prestigious national prize.
The award, announced Thursday by the Heinz Family Foundation in Pittsburgh, is for DeSimone’s achievements in developing and commercializing green chemistry, nanoparticle fabrication, precision medicine and 3D printing. He won in the award’s technology, the economy and employment category. The foundation praised DeSimone for integrating the fields of physical, engineering and life sciences to create new products and techniques.
The award carries a $250,000 cash prize.
DeSimone co-founded Carbon, Inc., which is now working with manufacturing partners to develop applications for new technology to improve and accelerate 3D printing. The company has 200 employees, $220 million in investment from companies such as Google, GE and BMW. Carbon worked with adidas to create a new running shoe called Futurecraft 4D, which has a lattice midsole that can be printed in 30 minutes.
He has also pioneered new techniques for nanomedicine, with the potential to deliver vaccines for such diseases as malaria and tuberculosis. That technology led to a company called Liquidia Technologies, co-founded by DeSimone.
“Dr. DeSimone’s achievements as a polymer scientist and entrepreneur leading to singular breakthroughs in areas such as 3D printing, nanomedicine and green chemistry are many, and the positive effects on how we live, create, work and treat our planet are only just beginning to be seen,” said Teresa Heinz, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation. “We honor him with the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment not only for these accomplishments, but also for his ability to work across the traditional boundaries of scientific discipline, and for taking knowledge gained out of the laboratory and into the places where it can have a positive impact.”
DeSimone has labs at both UNC and NCSU.