The 2019 Ruckenstein Lecture Series

Chad A. Mirkin

Northwestern University | Department of Chemistry and International Institute for Nanotechnology

Topic: Rational Vaccinology: In Pursuit of the Perfect Vaccine

Chad Mirkin.

Spherical Nucleic Acids (SNAs) are a new class of therapeutic architectures, consisting of oligonucleotides radially conjugated to a nanoparticle core. This arrangement of DNA or RNA gives rise to unique properties not observed with their linear counterparts, such as rapid cellular uptake and increased resistance to nuclease degradation. The emergent properties of SNAs are revolutionizing the way we study, track, and treat disease and in the process, laying the foundation for a new field of rational vaccinology: elucidating and leveraging the structure-activity relationships of SNAs to arrive at the most potent immunostimulatory construct. We are advancing this vision forward by treating solid tumors with immunostimulatory SNAs that activate an immune response against cancer cells. This presentation will describe these advances and illustrate how rational vaccinology may improve human lives.


Dr. Chad A. Mirkin is the Director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology and the George B. Rathmann Prof. of Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, and Medicine at Northwestern University.  He is a chemist and a world-renowned nanoscience expert, who is known for his discovery and development of spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) and SNA-based biodetection and therapeutic schemes, Dip-Pen Nanolithography (DPN) and related cantilever-free nanopatterning methodologies, On-Wire Lithography (OWL), and Co-Axial Lithography (COAL), and contributions to supramolecular chemistry and nanoparticle synthesis. He is the author of over 730 manuscripts and over 1,100 patent applications worldwide (over 300 issued), and the founder of multiple companies, including AuraSense, Exicure, TERA-print, and CDJ Technologies. Mirkin has been recognized with over 130 national and international awards, including the Wilhelm Exner Medal, the RUSNANOPRIZE, the Dan David Prize, and the inaugural Sackler Prize in Convergence Research. He was an eight-year Member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology (Obama Administration), and one of very few scientists to be elected to all three US National Academies. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Chemical Society, and the National Academy of Inventors, among others. Mirkin has served on the Editorial Advisory Boards of over 20 scholarly journals, including JACS, Angew. Chem., and Adv. Mater.; at present, he is an Associate Editor of JACS. He is the founding editor of the journal Small, and he has co-edited multiple bestselling books. Mirkin holds a B.S. degree from Dickinson College (1986) and a Ph.D. degree from the Penn. State Univ. (1989). He was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the MIT prior to becoming a professor at Northwestern Univ. in 1991.

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