Lecture focuses on moving discoveries into the marketplace

A culture of entrepreneurship and its means for translating discoveries into the marketplace in order to make a difference to society is essential at research universities today. Faculty members who are also entrepreneurs bring a depth of understanding and experience to the classroom that has an unparalleled effect in inspiring and educating the next generation of students.

That theme will be taken up tomorrow evening by Professor Joseph M. DeSimone (left), the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, when he delivers this year’s Ernest C. Mercier Lecture in Entrepreneurial Chemistry.

Simone will speak about his experiences and involvement in recent breakthroughs developing materials used for imprint lithography. Results of research conducted in his lab have enabled an extremely versatile and flexible method for the direct fabrication and harvesting of shape-specific nano-biomaterials. The method, referred to as Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates, or PRINT, allows for the fabrication of monodisperse particles with simultaneous control over shape, size, composition and function.

Unlike other particle fabrication techniques, PRINT is delicate and general enough to be compatible with a variety of important next-generation cancer therapeutic, detection and imaging agents. PRINT particles are presently being designed to reach new understandings and therapies in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Early detection via targeted delivery of the imaging agent goes hand in hand with these new directions.

DeSimone will speak about his experience developing PRINT tomorrow, Oct. 23, in a lecture entitled "The Blending of Research & Teaching with Entrepreneurship: The Launching of Liquidia Technologies". The lecture begins at 7pm in the Robert R. McEwen Auditorium in the Seymour Schulich Building (reception: 6:30pm). RSVP to scirsvp@yorku.ca. For more information, click here or contact Adrienne De Francesco, executive officer, Faculty of Science & Engineering, at ext. 33109 or adefranc@yorku.ca.

DeSimone is also a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University, as well as UNC Chapel Hill. He is director of the NSF Science Technology Center for Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes, a collaborative endeavour connecting the research goals, resources and expertise of five universities spanning the areas of chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, information and library sciences, psychology, and education. He is also director of the new UNC Institute for Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Technology.  

DeSimone was also chairman (1996-2003) and co-founder of Micell Technologies, Inc, a company which pioneered the highly celebrated carbon dioxide dry cleaning technology to replace the undesirable solvent perchloroethylene. In 2002, DeSimone co-founded BioStent with Richard Stack, William Starling and Robert Langer to develop and commercialize polymeric drug eluting stents for cardiovascular applications. DeSimone has written more than 220 refereed articles and has issued over 100 patents.

With his work recognized by the national press, the National Science Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency,  DeSimone is the recipient of numerous regional and national awards.

The lecture celebrates the memory of Ernest C. Mercier (left), who was the executive vice-president of Toronto Dominion Bank when he retired in 1993. Mercier is the late husband of Eileen Mercier, a York graduate (MBA ‘77) who established the lecture series in her husband’s name. Eileen Mercier is a member of the Board of Governors of York University.

"Ernest believed that the benefits of discipline and analytical thinking, which his engineering education provided, were basic to understanding the cause-and-effect laws of business. That and a love of working with people were important reasons that he did well," says Eileen Mercier. "This lectureship will hopefully inspire others to use their education in similarly unique ways."

More about Eileen Mercier

Eileen Mercier (right) was appointed to the Board of Governors in 1996 and is a member of the Land and Property Committee.  She is Chair of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board and is on the board of  a number of for-profit corporations. A graduate of York University (MBA ’77), she is a Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers. Mercier is a former senior vice-president and chief financial officer of Abitibi-Price and former president of Finvoy Management Limited.

Mercier established the lecture series to inspire and empower future generations of chemistry students at York with a sense of the possible. Bridging the worlds of business and commerce with the intensive research world of chemistry, the annual lecture series presents an entrepreneur and renowned scientist who has used his or her own science education as a springboard to other enterprises.

The Ernest C. Mercier Lecture in Entrepreneurial Chemistry is sponsored by York University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering and the Schulich School of Business.