S. ‘Thai’ Thayumanavan, professor of chemistry is awarded the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize for his paper: “Shrink-wrapped Proteins as Next Generation Biologics.” Thayumanavan’s work addresses major challenges in delivering protein-based drugs and devices across a cell membrane while keeping the protein stable and avoiding unwanted immune system responses. The award-winning study presents a “robust and sustainable” strategy which overcomes those challenges: the protein itself serves as a template, and polymers self-assemble to form a sheath around it. The technology has exciting potential applications in therapeutics.
The panel of expert judges praised Thayumanavan’s work as “a major step forward that takes on a long-standing problem,” and “a large advance in the field.” Tricia Serio, dean of the College of Natural Sciences said, “Thai’s approach — to have the protein template its own packaging — is the type of innovative and out-of-the-box thinking that enables transformational advances in science. His work embodies the spirit of this award.”
Richard Vachet, chemistry department head, said, "Thai is a very creative scientist who has a remarkable ability to turn fundamental chemical understanding into new materials that solve real-world problems in biomedicine. His work is a great example of how UMass Amherst researchers are doing translational research."
Through the generosity of the Mahoney family, the prize recognizes UMass Amherst scientists whose work has the potential for advancing connections between research and industry. The Prize includes an award of $10,000 and is awarded annually to one faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in life sciences research, and whose work significantly advances connections between academic research and industry.