Joseph M. DeSimone joined Stanford University in 2020 and is the Sanjiv Sam Gambhir Professor of Translational Medicine and Chemical Engineering. He holds appointments in the Departments of Radiology and Chemical Engineering with a courtesy appointment in Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Previously, DeSimone was a professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and of chemical engineering at North Carolina State University. He is also Co-founder, Board Chair, and former CEO (2014 – 2019) of the additive manufacturing company, Carbon.
DeSimone has published over 350 scientific articles (>43,000 citations; h-index = 97) in his career and is a named inventor on over 200 issued patents. A strong advocate for increasing diversity in science and engineering fields, he has mentored 80 students through Ph.D. completion in his career, half of whom are women and members of underrepresented groups in STEM. In 2016 DeSimone was recognized by President Barack Obama with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor in the U.S. for achievement and leadership in advancing technological progress.
DeSimone is responsible for numerous breakthroughs in his career in areas including green chemistry, medical devices, nanomedicine, and 3D printing, also co-founding several companies based on his research. In the 1990s he and students invented an environmentally friendly manufacturing process that relies on supercritical CO2 instead of harmful solvents for the synthesis of fluoropolymer materials (e.g. Science 1992, 257, 945). This ‘green’ synthesis process was licensed to and commercialized by DuPont. DeSimone and students then invented surfactants for CO2 (e.g. Science 1996, 274, 2049) to enable green cleaning processes, also starting companies from this work. In the mid-2000s, after inventing novel perfluoropolyether materials (e.g. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2004, 126, 2322), DeSimone and students applied them in an imprint lithography-based process to invent a groundbreaking nanoparticle manufacturing platform, PRINT (particle replication in non-wetting templates)—the first technology to enable the large-scale fabrication of uniform nanoparticles for medicine with independent control over particle parameters such as size, shape, composition, modulus, and surface chemistry (e.g. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2008, 105, 11613). Based on PRINT, DeSimone co-founded the biotechnology company Liquidia Technologies (NASDAQ: LQDA), which currently has multiple products in clinical trials. DeSimone’s laboratory has also published a large body of research by employing PRINT to study how specific particle attributes influence biological processes, as well as to provide insights into the design of vaccines and targeted therapeutics.
More recently, DeSimone and team invented a revolutionary 3D printing technology, CLIP (continuous liquid interface production) (Science 2015, 347, 1349). CLIP eliminates the slow, layer-by-layer construction seen with other polymer 3D printing approaches to enable parts to ‘grow’ continuously from a pool of liquid resin. The technology moves hundreds of times faster than other methods and delivers production-grade parts comparable in performance to injection molded parts, including with complex geometries impossible to make with traditional fabrication approaches. Based on CLIP, DeSimone co-founded, and was the CEO of for six years, Carbon, Inc., now a global company valued at over $2B on the cutting edge of the digital additive manufacturing industry. Carbon is helping to advance product innovation in numerous industries, including medical, dental, footwear, automotive, protective gear, and aerospace. Under Joe’s leadership, Carbon also pioneered the world’s first subscription business model for manufacturing hardware, which provides unique visibility into future revenue, advances strong partnerships with customers, and enables customers to be future-proofed from obsolescence. CLIP is also used by numerous academic laboratories, including the DeSimone group at Stanford, to advance research in areas including medical devices and implants.
DeSimone has received numerous major awards and recognitions for achievements in science, engineering, invention, and business. In addition to the U.S. National Medical of Technology and Innovation, these include the U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (1997); the American Chemical Society Award for Creative Invention (2005); the Lemelson-MIT Prize (2008); the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2009); the AAAS Mentor Award (2010); the Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine (2015); the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment (2017); the National Academy of Sciences Award for Convergent Science (2018); the Wilhelm Exner Medal (2019); the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2019 U.S. Overall National Winner); and the Harvey Prize in Science and Technology (2020). Additionally, he is one of only 25 individuals elected to all three branches of the U.S. National Academies (Sciences, Medicine, Engineering). DeSimone received his B.S. in Chemistry in 1986 from Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1990 from Virginia Tech.