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  • Theresa Reineke
    03/16/16

    Theresa Reineke receives Taylor Award for Distinguished Research

Professor Theresa Reineke has received the 2016 George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Research from the College of Science & Engineering (CSE). This award honors younger faculty members who have shown outstanding ability in research.

Reineke is lauded for her transformative research contributions to the field of polymeric materials chemistry; superb leadership in innovative and collaborative research teams across the University of Minnesota campus that have garnered large government and industrial support; and excellent track record of entrepreneurship and technology licensing.

She joined the Department of Chemistry faculty in 2011 and, five months after her arrival, was awarded the Lloyd H. Reyerson Professorship in Chemistry because of her international leadership in research, teaching, and service.  She is a leader on collaborative teams across the University campus that have brought in more than $40 million of research funding. These include a flagship Minnesota Innovation Partnership with Dow Chemical Company, for which she is principal investigator, and two National Science Foundation centers—the Center for Sustainable Polymers, a Center for Chemical Innovation, and the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.  She leads one of MRSEC’s interdisciplinary research groups, Hierarchical Macromolecular Materials, that is composed of 14 post-doctorate and graduate student researchers and eight faculty members from three CSE departments.

Reineke is known for her creative research in the field of polymeric materials design for therapeutic delivery and sustainability, which has led to significant breakthroughs in the field of oral drug administration. Her group has invented oral polymeric drug delivery technologies that currently are in the pre-clinical beta testing stage. These technologies could help with the delivery of challenging medicines that treat heart disease, seizures, and cancer.

She also is a pioneer in polymer delivery designs for DNA- and RNA-based genetic treatments. Her work has led to the discovery of several new classes of polymeric materials. These promising materials could help treat genetic disorders that currently have minimal treatment options such as hemophilia and Hurler syndrome.

Reineke has applied her biomaterials expertise to replacing petroleum-based and environment-toxic plastics with biocompatible and environmentally sound alternatives. A key focus is on using sustainable natural products such as carbohydrates and seed oils as feedstocks to build nontoxic materials. For example, her research group has recently fabricated a renewable thermoset derived from glucose.

Professor Reineke has published or submitted close to 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts that have received significant external recognition and press and been cited close to 11,000 times. She has received numerous awards and international recognition, licensed 8 of her 11 technology patent applications to industry, served significantly through leading diversity initiatives on the University’s campus, and helped launch as a founding association editor a successful new research journal for the American Chemical Society, ACS Macro Letters.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, her master’s degree from Arizona State University, and her doctorate from the University of Michigan. She was a National Institutes of Health Post-doctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. Before coming to the University of Minnesota, Reineke worked at Upsher-Smith Pharmaceuticals, and began her academia career at the University of Cincinnati and Virginia Tech.