David M. Lynn, 30
Synthesizes polymers that are better able to deliver therapeutic genes
University of Wisconsin-Madison
When David Lynn was doing graduate work in chemistry at Caltech, he became fascinated with polymers and their possible biomedical uses. One such possibility is that polymers could deliver therapeutic DNA to cells to treat conditions such as cancer or cystic fibrosis. Other researchers pursuing gene therapy have used modified viruses to carry genetic material into cells, but viruses can provoke serious immune reactions. The right polymer could make a much safer delivery agent, because the immune system is far less likely to perceive it as a threat. As a postdoc at MIT, Lynn developed a process that could synthesize hundreds- or even thousands- of new polymers at once and screen their varying DNA-transferring capabilities. His approach has already identified several new polymers that excel at gene delivery. Now an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Lynn has two patents issued or pending relating to his process and has been approached by several companies.