Mark Prausnitz, 33
Gorgia Institute of Technology
In pharmaceutical companies around the globe, chemists labor for untold hours tweaking newly discovered drugs so that they will enter the bloodstream and reach their targets more effectively. Mark Prausnitz takes a different approach: "I’m choosing to manipulate the body, and have it let the medicine in." As a grad student, Prausnitz showed for the first time how short electric pulses could move large quantities of drugs across the skin,a phenomenon known as electroporation. That approach could help in treating tumors and autoimmune diseases.
Since joining the Georgia Institute of Technology’s chemical engineering department, Prausnitz and colleague Mark Allen invented a 10-millimeter-square array of silicon needles (each 150 microns long) that make microscopic holes in the skin and can painlessly pump drugs into the body. The device could offer the convenience of skin patches, but administer a much wider variety of drugs. A startup company, Redeon of Cambridge, Mass., is working to commercialize the invention.