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Mirkin Receives First NIH Pioneer Award

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October 5, 2004
Chad A. Mirkin

Chad A. Mirkin

Chad A. Mirkin, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry and director of the Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University, has received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health.

Established in January 2004, the Director’s Pioneer Award recognizes exceptional researchers and thinkers from multiple disciplines who have highly innovative ideas and approaches to contemporary challenges in biomedical research. Mirkin is one of only nine awardees from the approximately 1,000 nominations NIH received from around the country and the only awardee from the Midwest.

“We are extremely pleased by the overwhelming number and caliber of nominations we received,” said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. “By bringing the awardees’ unique perspectives and creativity to bear on key medical research questions, these scientific Pioneers may one day develop seminal theories or technologies that will propel science forward to improve human health.”

Applicants underwent a rigorous nomination and selection process to establish which among them appeared to hold the greatest potential for addressing critical scientific questions that would greatly impact biomedical science and health care. Nominees were expected to demonstrate commitment to accepting considerable risk in addressing critically important scientific questions relevant to the mission of the NIH.

As part of the award, Mirkin will receive approximately $4.5 million over five years to allow him the time and resources to test far-ranging ideas with the potential to make extraordinary contributions to medical research.

Mirkin is world-renowned for his development of medical diagnostic systems based upon nanomaterials. In addition, he is the inventor and chief developer of Dip-Pen Nanolithography, a groundbreaking nanoscale analytical tool, and is the founder of Nanosphere and NanoInk, two Chicago-based companies.

Mirkin has been recognized with numerous national and international awards for his advances.  These include the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences; the ACS Nobel Laureate Signature Award; Discover 2000 Innovation of the Year Award; the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology; and the Leo Hendrick Baekeland Award. He has authored more than 200 publications, holds 75 patents, serves on the editorial advisory board of 12 chemistry journals and is founding editor of the international journal of nanotechnology, Small.

In addition to Mirkin, the other awardees are Larry Abbott, Brandeis University; George Daley, Children’s Hospital Boston; Homme Hellinga, Duke University Medical Center; Joseph McCune, J. David Gladstone Institutes; Steven McKnight, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Rob Phillips, California Institute of Technology; Stephen Quake, California Institute of Technology; and Sunney Xie, Harvard University.

For more information on the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Program, including the NIH press release and awardee information, go to http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/highrisk/index.asp.