Chad A. Mirkin, Northwestern University professor, entrepreneur and world leader in nanotechnology research and its application, received the international 2016 Dan David Prize in the Future Time Dimension at an awards ceremony May 22 at Tel Aviv University in Israel.


Mirkin was honored for his innovative research in nanotechnology and medicine, which holds great promise for improvement of our world. The Dan David Prize specifically recognizes his invention of spherical nucleic acids, which couple human DNA and nanotechnology and could improve diagnostics and medical treatments.


“The ceremony was an extraordinary honor, celebration and experience,” Mirkin said. “The Dan David Prize is a major milestone for my research group and Northwestern science, engineering and medicine at large. Having President Schapiro on stage at the awards ceremony made it an especially rewarding and memorable event.”


In addition to Mirkin’s family, a small group of Northwestern officials attended the ceremony. They included President Morton Schapiro; Robert McQuinn, vice president for alumni relations and development; Nim Chinniah, executive vice president; Philip Harris, vice president and general counsel; and Michael Bedzyk and Monica Olvera de la Cruz, professors of materials science and engineering.


The Dan David Prize annually awards three $1 million prizes for outstanding achievements in the three time dimensions -- past, present and future. This year, the future time dimension prize recognizes innovative and interdisciplinary research that cuts across traditional boundaries and paradigms in nanoscience and nanotechnology.


Mirkin, the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, shares the $1 million future time dimension prize with Paul Alivisatos, University of California, Berkeley, and Sir John Pendry, Imperial College London. Alivisatos and Pendry also attended the May 22 ceremony.


Mirkin is a pioneer in a unique frontier. For the past two decades, he has been repackaging and chemically modifying DNA, the genetic blueprint of life, and its sister nucleic acid, RNA, in new forms and tacking them on to nanoparticles in a quest to achieve new breakthroughs, especially in the health sciences. His work has led to the invention of 3-D structures called spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) that have chemical and physical properties that are radically different from what is found in nature.


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