SMU Chemist Receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Alex Lippert (Courtesy of: SMU)

Southern Methodist University assistant professor and chemist Alex Lippert is one of this year’s National Science Foundation CAREER Award recipients. He is expected to receive a total of $611,000 over five years to fund his research into alternative internal imaging techniques. Lippert is one of 190 award recipients in Texas, and earned the largest grant in Dallas-Fort Worth.

According to the National Science Foundation, the CAREER Awards are given to “tenure-track faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research in American colleges and universities.”

Lippert, who teaches chemistry at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Science, also advises four doctoral students and five undergraduates who assist in his research. His lab reportedly combines innovative organic chemistry with imaging techniques. Lippert’s lab experiments include synthesizing biocompatible dyes and MRI contrast agents to track biochemical events in living systems in real-time to further understand cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neuronal signaling.

An example of his team’s work is injecting compounds into a mouse tumor and observing a luminescent reaction to the cancer’s pH and oxygen levels. Images can then capture the light emanating from the mouse’s tumor. These practices are believed to be practical for pre-clinical animal imaging, low-cost internal imaging in the developing world, or less costly imaging in the developed world.

Lippert says the grant is critical for the team’s ability to continue its research. “This will support the reagents and supplies, student stipends, and strengthen our collaboration with UT Southwestern Medical Center,” he said in a statement. “Having that funding secure for five years is really nice because we can now focus our attention on the actual science instead of writing grants. It’s a huge step forward in our research progress.”

Lippert joined SMU in 2012. Previously, he was a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Berkeley. Lippert earned a bachelor’s in science from the California Institute of Technology and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

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