Joseph A. Zasadzinski

Joe Zasadzinski

3M Harry Heltzer Professor of Multidisciplinary Science and Technology, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department, University of Minnesota

Address

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science    
University of Minnesota,
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0132 USA                                                   

Home: 952-923-1303 | Cell 805-453-0396

Office: 612-626-2957

Joseph A. Zasadzinski received his Ph. D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1985.  He graduated with a BS, also in Chemical Engineering, from the California Institute of Technology in 1980.  He joined the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1986 following a post-doc at AT&T Bell Laboratories. Professor Zasadzinski received a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the NSF in 1987.  The Microscopy Society of America awarded him its Burton Award in 1993 as the outstanding microscopist under the age of 35.  In 2000, Zasadzinski became a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science  and received the American Chemical Society Award in Colloid Science in 2004.  He was named a fellow of the American Physical Society for 2009.  He received the Avanti Award in Lipids from the Biophysical Society in 2013.  He was a founding member of the Materials Research Laboratory,  the California Nanoscience Institute and the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnology at UCSB.  Dr. Zasadzinski returned to the University of Minnesota in 2011 as the 3M Harry Heltzer Chair of Multidisciplinary Science and Technology.

Research Interests:

My research centers on the interfacial and self-assembling properties of biologically relevant surfactants such as lipids and proteins. We try to understand how the fundamental chemistry and physics of lung surfactant monolayers and bilayers influence their physiological role of lowering surface tension in the human lung. Dysfunction of this system leads to neonatal and adult respiratory distress syndrome, which affects 100,000 people each year, with a 40% mortality rate. We believe that the problem is due to competition between serum proteins and lung surfactants for the interface during the inflammation that accompanies disease. We have built novel two-dimensional shear and dilatational rheometers that we couple to fluorescence imaging techniques to relate interfacial mechanics to composition and morphology. We are showing that the Laplace instability, caused by a lack of dynamic changes in surface tension during breathing, may be responsible for causing lung dysfunction during respiratory distress.

Our second area of interest is creating novel plasmon resonant gold nanostructures that strongly interact with near infrared (NIR) light. NIR is physiologically benign and can transmit through centimeters of tissue which makes it ideal for triggering local biological processes such as disrupting endosomes to release genetic materials to the cell cytoplasm with incredible spatial and temporal control. The laser pulses create cavitation-like nanobubbles around gold nanoparticles that can disrupt endosomes and nearly instantaneously release the desired protein or genetic material directly to the cytoplasm with high viability and efficiency. We are currently developing high throughput methods to create cell-based “drugs” by delivering mRNA to natural killer and T-cells to enhance the immune system response to cancer. The mRNA can code for chimeric antigen receptor proteins that help the immune cells target the cancer, but disappear after the cancer is gone. We create lipid based liposomes to encapsulate and protect the mRNA during endocytosis and delivery, then use the NIR light to generate nanobubbles to rupture the liposomes and endosomes to deliver the mRNA directly to the cytosol at high throughput and with high cell viability.

Curriculum Vitae

Degrees
  • California Institute of Technology, BS 1980
  • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1985

Positions and Appointments
  • Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials, UC Santa Barbara, 1986-1990
  • Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials, UC Santa Barbara, 1990-1993
  • Professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials, UC Santa Barbara, 1993-2010
  • Professor Invite’ at the University of Bordeaux and the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal, 2001
  • 3M Harry Heltzer Chair of Multidisciplinary Science and Technology, U. Minnesota, 2011-
 
Honors
  • 2014, Editorial Board Member, Biophysical Journal
  • 2013, Avanti Award in Lipids of the Biophysical Society
  • 2011, 3M Harry Heltzer Chair in Multidisciplinary Science and Technology
  • 2009, Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • 2004, American Chemical Society Award in Colloid Science
  • 2001, Professeur Invit', University of Bordeaux and the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal
  • 2000, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 1993, Burton Award of the Microscopy Society of America for Best Microscopist under the age of 35
  • 1986, Presidential Young Investigator Award - NSF