Matthew DeLisa received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1996; his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 2001; and did postdoctoral work at the University of Texas-Austin, Department of Chemical Engineering. DeLisa joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University as an assistant professor in 2003 and was promoted to associate professor in 2009. He recently served as a Gastprofessur at ETH Zürich in the Institut für Mikrobiologie.
Professor DeLisa's research focuses on understanding and controlling the molecular mechanisms underlying protein biogenesis -- folding and assembly, membrane translocation and post-translational modifications -- in the complex environment of a living cell. His contributions to science and engineering include the invention of numerous commercially important technologies for facilitating the discovery, design and manufacturing of human drugs and seminal discoveries in the areas of cellular protein folding and protein translocation. DeLisa has received several awards for his work including an NSF CAREER award, a NYSTAR Watson Young Investigator award, a Beckman Foundation Young Investigator award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator award, and a NYSTAR Distinguished Faculty Award. He was also named one of the top 35 young innovators (TR35) by MIT's Technology Review in 2005 and was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Wiley-Blackwell Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang award, which honors a distinguished young researcher in this field. Most recently, he was honored with a Cornell Provost's Award for Distinguished Scholarship and was the recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society's BIOT division.
It has been suggested that life depends on 200-300 core biological processes, the vast majority of which are accomplished by large heterogeneous protein assemblies commonly referred to as machines. Unfortunately, the functional details of many cellular machines have yet to be described for lack of effective tools. In turn, this has hindered our ability to harness nature's machines for tackling problems that cannot be solved with natural systems. The DeLisa laboratory is working to address this need by bridging fundamental biological and chemical concepts with new tools for interrogating and manipulating biological machinery directly in living cells. A major goal of the DeLisa group is to engineer the protein machinery of simple bacteria for solving complex problems in biology and medicine. They focus on the molecular machines of protein biosynthesis as both a target for understanding and reprogramming cellular function and as a toolbox for the creation of therapeutically and industrially relevant molecules. Their unique approach involves probing and exploiting the function and specificity of cellular protein machinery by integrating protein engineering - the science of redesigning natural biomolecular scaffolds - with microbial genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology to address these problems. The end result is a deep understanding of the complexities of intracellular protein machinery that can ultimately be used to inform the engineering of cellular processes for the purpose of discovery, design and production of a diverse array of useful products and processes.
DeLisa's contributions to teaching have focused on two concepts. First, to enrich the current chemical engineering curriculum by seamlessly integrating biology as a foundational science of our discipline. Second, to develop group-oriented learning experiences that expose students to engineering design, open-ended problem solving and, whenever possible, hands-on research. Recognition for his past teaching contributions was given by the College of Engineering in 2007 with the awarding of the Mr. & Mrs. Richard F. Tucker '50 Excellence in Teaching Award.
- 2012. "Twin-arginine translocase mutations that suppress folding quality control and permit export of misfolded substrate proteins." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States 109 (33): 13392-13397. .
- 2012. "An engineered eukaryotic protein glycosylation pathway in Escherichia coli." Nature Chemical Biology 8 (5): 434-436. .
- 2010. "Delivery of foreign antigens by engineered outer membrane vesicle vaccines." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States 107 (7): 3099-3104. .
- 2009. "Synthetic metabolic pipelines." Nature Biotechnology 27 (8): 728 - 729. .
- 2009. "Versatile selection technology for intracellular protein-protein interactions mediated by a unique bacterial hitchhiker transport mechanism." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States 106 (10): 3692-3697. .
Selected Awards and Honors
- National Science Foundation CAREER Award (National Science Foundation) 2005
- Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award (Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation) 2005
- Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (Office of Naval Research) 2006
- Daniel I.C. Wang Award (Biotechnology and Bioengineering) 2008
- Biochemical Technology Division Young Investigator Award (American Chemcial Society) 2010
- BS (Chemical Engineering), University of Connecticut, 1996
- MS (Chemical Engineering), University of Maryland, 1999
- Ph D (Chemical Engineering), University of Maryland, 2000