DuPont Expects New Products From MIT Alliance

DuPont, a $27.3 billion producer of multiple chemical, agricultural, industrial and material products, will continue to fund a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that focuses on R&D. DuPont CTO Thomas M. Connelly Jr. announced that the company will grant the program $25 million, which will push the company's total investment in the DuPont MIT Alliance (DMA) to $60 million. The company first invested in DMA in 2000. It's the largest corporate R&D investment at MIT.

"The successes and experiences of the Alliance warrant our continued funding," Connelly said. "In 2000, we asked MIT scientists to give us their best ideas on science that could enhance our everyday lives. The response and resulting research has led to significant scientific achievements.

"These first five years focused on inventing new materials using nature and biology as the design roadmap. The second stage of the Alliance will expand the collaborative capabilities of DuPont and MIT beyond bio-based science to also include nanocomposites, nanoelectronic materials, alternative energy technologies and next generation safety and protection materials."

Four top DMA research programs showcased this week demonstrate the goals of the alliance: to advance basic science; to create commercial potential for novel scientific applications; or to develop enabling technologies that directly relate to the strategic direction of DuPont R&D. The featured MIT scientists and their programs were:

  • Gregory Stephanopoulos: next-generation advances in metabolic engineering, including genome-wide analyses and modeling for the production of chemicals and intermediates from renewable bio-feedstocks;
  • Mriganka Sur, head of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Dept.: an early stage research program to develop a novel biopolymer-based nervous system implant that could replace nonfunctional brain tissue following traumatic brain injury;
  • Linda Griffith, director of the Biotechnology Process Engineering Center: a device for tissue-like culturing of liver cells, designed to provide early assessment of the toxicity of new pharmaceuticals;
  • Michael Rubner, director of the Center for Material Science and Engineering: a novel material similar to the naturally water repellent surface of the lotus leaf. Potential applications include self-cleaning fabrics, water-repellant windshields, or plumbing that resists the growth of harmful bacteria by preventing water from accumulating on its surface.
DuPont has long been a leader in development of new materials that soon become household names such as Tyvek, Kevlar and Corian. The company has 75 research labs around the world.
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