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DSM presents new Polymer Technology Award in the US

Heerlen, NL, 01 Sep 2011 13:30 CEST

Cole DeForest has been awarded the DSM Polymer Technology Award 2011 for his PhD research in the field of responsive polymer hydrogels.
Cole DeForest

A judging committee comprising experts from DSM and from the Polymer Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS POLY) chose the winner from among four candidates selected as finalists. Cole DeForest has developed a synthetic methodology to synthesize novel hydrogel biomaterials whose biochemical and biophysical properties are independently tunable in both time and space and can be used to direct and probe fundamental cell function. The winning research will enable researchers to gain better insight into how cells receive complex information from their local native environment. This knowledge will aid in the development of next-generation biomaterials, which will be used as 3D cell culture materials to promote spatially-defined stem cell differentiation, as well as in the engineering of functional human tissue for regenerative medicine applications. The award carries a cash prize of USD 2,000.

Cole DeForest: “I am proud to be the recipient of the inaugural DSM Polymer Technology Award, a new tradition that I hope will carry on for many years to come. This award represents a strong commitment from DSM to new and ongoing partnerships with the academic world, which will be crucial in the continued development and commercialization of innovative chemical products for many years to come. It is an honor to be selected for such a fabulous award.”

The other three finalists were: Joshua Katz, James Kretlow and Timothy Merkel. All four finalists presented their PhD research at a special DSM – ACS POLY Symposium held in Denver as part of the ACS Fall Meeting.

Dr Joseph Put, CTO of DSM and chair of the judging committee, presented the award to Cole DeForest at the ACS POLY awards reception held in Denver on August 31. Dr Put: “DSM wants to recognize and reward exceptional achievements in science, both by our own employees and by talents working outside DSM. That is why we have our Bright Science Awards program. The Polymer Technology Award that we have introduced this year in the USA fits in our global strategy and is meant to support and reinforce our interaction with the academic world in the US.”

The four finalists and their PhD research

Cole DeForest conducted his research in the Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO under the supervision of Prof. Kristi Anseth. PhD thesis title: Phototunable Click-based Hydrogels for 3D Cell Culture: Dynamic Biochemical and Biomechanical Tailorability of the Cell Niche.

Joshua Katz conducted his research in the Dept. of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA under the supervision of Prof. Jason A. Burdick. PhD thesis title: 'Chemical Modifications to Vesicle Forming Diblock Copolymers: Development of Smart Functional Polymersomes'.

James Kretlow conducted his research in the Dept. of Bioengineering at Rice University, Houston, TX under the supervision of Prof. Antonios G. Mikos. PhD thesis title: 'Biomaterial-based strategies for craniofacial tissue engineering'.

Timothy Merkel conducted his research in the Dept. of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC under the supervision of Prof. Joseph M. DeSimmone. PhD thesis title: 'Biologically Inspired PRINT Particles: Design, Fabrication, in vitro and in vivo Evaluations of Extremely Soft Particles'.

The award

The DSM Polymer Technology Award was introduced this year and forms part of DSM’s Bright Science Awards program. This award program aims to recognize and reward outstanding scientists and to strengthen DSM’s interaction with the academic world. The DSM Polymer Technology Award is granted for innovative PhD or post-doctoral research in polymer technology. It has been established in partnership with the Division of Polymer Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (ACS POLY). The Award is open to new and current PhD researchers based in the USA. Nominated research must relate to the published theme of that year’s award. For 2011, the focus was on 'Polymers at the Biology/Materials Science Interface', and nominations were invited for PhD research in fields including, but not limited to, medical coatings, implant polymers, drug delivery, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.