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November 12, 2020 Thursday 12:28:38 PM IST

Princeton’s Dean for Research Award for Distinguished Innovation

Leadership Instincts

Robert Prud’homme, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton University, has been selected to receive the inaugural Dean for Research Award for Distinguished Innovation for the invention of flash nanoprecipitation, a method for creating nanoparticles that promises to improve the delivery of drugs throughout the body.The new annual award was presented on Nov. 5 as part of Engage 2020, Princeton’s new innovation and entrepreneurship conference. The award recognizes an innovation led by a Princeton professor whose scholarly activity and creative thinking has led to solutions for an issue of importance to humanity. The Office of the Dean for Research, home to Princeton Innovation, sponsors the award.

Flash nanoprecipitation is a technique to encapsulate ingredients within nanoscale particles for a variety of applications, including therapeutics and medical imaging. The nanoparticles — which are a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair — can protect drugs as they travel through the body, target precise locations such as tumors, and allow for the slow release of drugs. The method works with numerous drugs, including biologics, which degrade quickly without protection. Prud’homme co-founded the startup Optimeos Life Sciences in 2016 to make widely available flash nanoprecipitation, which originated from experiments conducted over two decades in Prud’homme’s lab. The company, located near campus at the incubator Princeton Innovation Center BioLabs, is creating improved delivery methods for medications targeting cancer, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and diseases of the nervous system and the eye.

A committee of external innovators and entrepreneurs selected Prud’homme for the inaugural prize from a strong pool of nominees. The criteria for the award included a demonstrated lineage of the innovation to scholarly research conducted at Princeton; the creativity of the innovation in addressing a critical challenge or opportunity of importance to society; and the potential or demonstrated impact of the innovation.

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