> Chemist captures national Top 40 Under 40™ award

Chemist captures national Top 40 Under 40™ award

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May 8, 2007
Caldwell Partners is honouring SFU chemistry professor Neil Branda as a 2006 recipient of its Canada’s Top 40 Under 40™ award. Branda is the ninth SFU recipient of the award since its inception in 1995.

The annual award recognizes 40 Canadians who shine as researchers, community leaders or entrepreneurs early in their career because of their vision, innovative achievements, impact, community involvement and development strategies.

At the age of 40, Branda is already known as Canada’s premier expert in molecular switching. This branch of materials science uses light, electricity or other stimuli to change a molecule’s structure and thereby control its properties.

A Canada Research Chair in Materials Science and a 2005 NSERC Steacie Fellowship recipient, Branda is pioneering the use of remotely controlled designer molecules to create a new breed of medical and energy-saving technologies.

SWITCH Materials Inc., an SFU spin-off company, is commercializing Branda’s research, with the first application being smart windows and lenses.

Branda collaborates with seven interdisciplinary research groups as director of molecular systems at 4D LABS. The $40 million SFU research centre is fast-tracking the design, synthesis and commercialization of nanoscale materials for a broad range of applications in many fields.

Passionate about bringing diverse groups of researchers together to problem solve, Branda founded the Nanomed Canada Research Network. This Internet community of nanoscience and medical researchers shares knowledge and works collaboratively to advance medical diagnostics and therapeutics.

Electronic photo file available
Backgrounder on Neil Branda attached below
Backgrounder on 4D LABS available online at: http://www.sfu.ca/pamr/media_releases/media_releases_archive/media_release04270705.html.

Neil Branda backgrounder

• The founder and director of the Nanomed Canada Research Network, Branda is using the Internet to build a community of nanoscience and medical researchers. They will work together to apply nanotechnology to the diagnosis and treatment of some of the world’s most deadly and costly diseases.

• Branda is a director of 4D LABS, SFU’s new $40 million research centre dedicated to discovering new materials and nanoscale devices. The facility works closely with industry partners to design, develop, demonstrate and deliver nanomaterials that can be used to create new energy, medical and information technologies.

• Branda is working with a hospital-based research team at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute to incorporate his molecular switches into a new breed of cancer diagnostics and drug delivery systems. These systems would be activated on command at the tumour site.

• At age 38, Branda was promoted to a senior level Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Materials Science from a junior level Tier 2 chair.

• Branda is the first SFU researcher to earn the Steacie fellowship, one of Canada’s premier science and engineering prizes.

Quotes from Branda:

• “We are motivated by the vision of molecules as the components of nanoscale machines – machines that, like their macroscopic counterparts, require controllable moving parts, ways to harvest and process energy, molecular circuitry, on-off switches, logic gates and information storage devices. Our research focuses on designing mechanisms to control structure and function relationships in molecules using molecular recognition, supramolecular chemistry and molecular switching strategies.”

• “Can you imagine having to unscrew a light bulb every time you want to turn it off?” questions Branda. “Well, that’s the analogy to our present use of many drugs. We have the knowledge to design effective drugs, but we don’t have the easy ways to regulate their activity after they’ve been administered.”