Milan Mrksich is the Vice President for Research at Northwestern University, where he is also the Henry Wade Rogers Professor with appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, and Cell and Developmental Biology. He was the Founding Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology and an Associate Director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. He earned a BS degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois and a PhD in Chemistry from Caltech. He then served as an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University before joining the Chemistry faculty at the University of Chicago in 1996, where he remained until his move to Northwestern in 2011. His honors include the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the TR100 Innovator Award, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, the Illinois Bio ICON Innovator Award, the Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award, and election to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
Professor Mrksich is a leader in the science and engineering of materials that contact biological environments. His laboratory has pioneered several technologies, including strategies to integrate living cells with microelectronic devices, methods to enable high throughput assays for drug discovery, and approaches to making synthetic proteins for therapeutic applications. Most notably, he developed the SAMDI biochip technology that allows enzymes to be tested at a rate of a hundred thousand per day, and that has become the leading ‘label-free’ technology in drug discovery. His work has been described in approximately 225 publications and 750 invited talks.
Professor Mrksich is an active advisor in government and industry. His present and past appointments include the Microsystems Exploratory Council, the Chair of the Defense Sciences Research Council—both advisory groups to the Defense Department—the Board of Governors for Argonne National Laboratory, and the Scientific Director of the Searle Scholars Program. He has also been active as an entrepreneur. He is Founder of SAMDI Tech, an Illinois-based contract research organization that has commercialized his high throughput assays for discovering drug leads and that now serves global pharmaceutical companies. He is also a co-Founder of Lyra Therapeutics (NASDAQ: LYRA), a company that has developed stents for the treatment of small vessels in ear, throat and nose diseases and recently founded ModuMab Therapeutics, which is developing next-generation immunotherapies. He has also served on a dozen Scientific Advisory Boards of other life sciences startup companies.