Robert K. Prud’homme has received the 2022 Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum Award from the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE).
The award recognizes a researcher who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of nanoscale science and engineering. Selection criteria are stringent, and the award is not given every year. Candidates are nominated from across academia, industry and government.
Prud’homme, professor of chemical and biological engineering, has made a widespread impact on drug manufacturing. The innovative nanoparticle mixing technique he and colleagues have developed over two decades, called flash nanoprecipitation, has been adopted globally to produce inexpensive and highly stable medicines, especially useful across the developing world. His work has advanced treatments for malaria, toxoplasmosis, diarrhea, tuberculosis and more. It is also the foundational technique for mixing mRNA vaccines, notable in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic but also for enabling future interventions for cancer and other diseases. Prud’homme has collaborated with several top pharmaceutical firms as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has provided funding for his research and adapted his technology for global health initiatives.
In 2020, Prud’homme won the inaugural Princeton Dean for Research Award for Distinguished Innovation, and in 2018 he won the Research Council of NJ’s Edison Patent Award for the original 2002 invention. He co-founded the startup Optimeos Life Sciences in 2016 to make the technique widely available. 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.