Professor Chad A. Mirkin - 2022 Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal Recipient
Professor Chad A. Mirkin - 2022 Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal Recipient

The recipient of the 2022 Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal is Professor Chad A. Mirkin, the director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology and the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University.

“I’m delighted to receive the Gold Medal Award,” said Professor Mirkin. “We have worked for three decades to try to develop biomaterials that make a difference in many critical fields, for example, chemistry, materials science, biology and medicine.  This honor is a wonderful recognition for the efforts of many talented students and postdoctoral fellows, who have expanded the frontiers of science and made discoveries that have positively impacted human-kind.” 

A world-renowned expert in nanoscience and nanomedicine, Professor Mirkin is best known for the discovery and development of spherical nucleic acids, which are synthetic globular – rather than linear – forms of DNA and RNA that surround a nanoparticle core. Roughly 50 nanometers (nm) in diameter, these nanostructures possess the ability to actively enter cells for targeted treatment delivery.

SNAs have been used in paradigm-shifting approaches to anti-cancer immunotherapies, vaccine design, and high-sensitivity molecular diagnostic tools. They are the basis for more than 1,800 commercial products to date, including one of the first FDA-cleared, menu-driven, point-of-care medical diagnostic systems; platforms capable of analyzing the genetic content of single living cells; and treatment of skin disorders and cancers via gene regulation and immunomodulatory pathways. SNA-based drugs are currently in clinical trials for diseases spanning psoriasis, glioblastoma and triple negative breast cancer.

Professor Mirkin is also known for the invention of dip-pen nanolithography, a technique for patterning molecules and materials on surfaces with sub-50 nm resolution, which was recognized by National Geographic as one of the “top 100 scientific discoveries that changed the world”; and the high-area rapid printing technology, a 3D printing process that can produce hard, elastic, or ceramic parts at record-breaking throughput.

As the founding director of Northwestern’s International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN), Mirkin leads an organization that represents more than $1 billion in research, educational programs, and supporting infrastructure. The IIN brings together more than 200 chemists, engineers, biologists, physicians, and business experts to focus on society’s most perplexing problems in areas such as medicine, energy, and the environment.

With more than 1,200 issued and pending patents worldwide, Dr. Mirkin has played a significant role in translating his scientific discoveries into technologies that are changing the world. He is the founder of several successful start-up companies, including Azul 3D (print-on-demand manufacturing), Exicure (gene regulation and cancer immune-therapies), Stoicheia (AI-enabled materials discovery), and TERA-print (nanofabrication). His diagnostic inventions are the foundation of Luminex’s VerigeneTM system that is used in many of the world’s top hospitals, resulting in better patient care, reduced antibiotic resistance, and lower health care costs.

Professor Mirkin is also a Professor of Medicine at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and a Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering. He earned a B.S. from Dickinson College and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University, and was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining Northwestern.

He is among an elite group of scientists, engineers and medical doctors to be elected to all three branches of the U.S. National Academies – the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine. He served on President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from 2009-16.

He has trained over 120 scientists, who are now faculty members at some of the world’s premier universities, and he has been recognized with more than 230 national and international awards, including the SCI Perkin Medal, the Friendship Award, the Nano Research Award, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Convergence Research, the Dan David Prize, the Wilhelm Exner Medal, the RUSNANOPRIZE, the Dickson Prize in Science, the American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal, the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, the Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine, and the AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Prize.

He will receive the award at the Society for Biomaterials meeting April 27-30, 2022 in Baltimore MD.