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Sir J. Fraser Stoddart to Head Nano Center at Northwestern University

by Editor1 last modified November 19, 2007 - 10:26

Northwestern University has recruited J. Fraser Stoddart, one of the world's leading nano researchers, and his team of 20 researchers away from University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA). The news signals an escalating multi-million dollar effort by Northwestern to bring other nanoscience stars to Chicago.

Sir J. Fraser Stoddart to Head Nano Center at Northwestern University

Stoddart, currently the head of the California NanoSystems Institute, will join Northwestern University in September as head of the new Center for the Chemistry of Integrated Systems, one of several institutes at Northwestern that has drawn $350 million in state and federal funding for nano research.

Northwestern’s recruiting of Stoddart and his team is just the latest investment in an on-going and aggressive multi-million dollar campaign to be one of the world's leading nano research centers. The campaign is funded largely in part thanks to Northwestern’s share of royalties from Pfizer Inc.’s blockbuster nerve pain drug Lyrica, press reports said.

A new $95 million life sciences chemistry center, Silverman Hall, is under construction named for Richard Silverman, the Northwestern chemist who developed the substance that became Lyrica. By the time that facility opens at the end of 2009, Northwestern intends to have more top researchers ready to move in, states Joseph Hupp, chairman of Northwestern's chemistry department to the Chicago Tribune. Stoddart will actively help the school recruit even more talent, Hupp told the paper.

Stoddart, 65, has been knighted by the Queen of England, has won the King Faisal International Prize in Science, and is widely considered a leading candidate for an eventual Nobel Prize.

Stoddart’s recent noteworthy accolades center around the development of ‘molecular switches’ that would vastly expand computer memory, and advances in nanomedicine that could improve drug delivery.

Northwestern's Hupp said that Argonne National Lab, the University of Illinois and University of Chicago along with other institutions in the region all help to elevate Chicago's status as a nanotech hotbed. Northwestern is also keen on entrepreneurship and start-ups. About a dozen nano start-ups have sprung from Northwestern's research efforts, including NanoInk, NanoIntegris, Nanotope and Nanosphere, which has said it plans to raise $100 million in an initial public offering of stock.