Mitch Winnik is the winner of the 2013 American Chemical Society Award in Applied Polymer Science.
Dr. Winnik is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Toronto. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. He also has the title University Professor, which is the University of Toronto’s highest recognition for scholarly excellence.
Winnik was trained and received tenure as an organic chemist, but became interested in polymers while on sabbatical leave in France in the late 1970s. This initiated a long odyssey in which he combined his background in photochemistry and fluorescence spectroscopy with studies of polymer properties at the molecular level. For nearly 20 years he and his students worked closely with scientists in the coatings industry to understand how latex (dispersions of polymer nanoparticles) evolved into mechanically robust films when these latex films dried on a surface. The fundamental knowledge provided by this research helped the coatings industry to produce environmentally compliant latex paints.
More recently, the Winnik group has turned its attention to the use of polymers in bioanalytical chemistry and in radioimmunotherapy. They work with DVS Sciences, a start-up company, to develop metal-chelating polymers as reagents for mass cytometry, a new technique for highly multiplexed immunoassays. In parallel, they work with scientists in the University of Toronto Faculty of Pharmacy and in the University of Toronto Health Network to apply antibody conjugates of metal-chelating polymers as targeted carriers of radionuclides in cancer theranostics (imaging and therapy). In parallel, the Winnik group carries out studies of block copolymer self assembly in solution, a long standing collaboration with Ian Manners.
Winnik has spent his entire career at the University of Toronto. Hi work in the coatings area has been recognized by four first place Roon Awards, the Tess Award of the American Chemical Society and the Joseph J. Mattiello Lecture Award. He received the 1993 Chemical Institute of Canada Award in Polymer Science, the 1995 Bell‑Canada Forum Award for University‑Industry interactions, and the 2004 CIC Medal. This is the highest award of the Chemical Institute of Canada. He was named a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in 1985 and in 1996 received a Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award. In 1996 he was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is listed by the ISI Web of Science as a most cited author in Chemistry.
Winnik received a B.A. in chemistry from Yale University and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Columbia University, working with Ronald Breslow. Before joining the faculty at the University of Toronto, he spent a postdoctoral year with George Hammond at Caltech.