Jeremiah Gassensmith

Jeremiah Gassensmith

Associate Professor – Chemistry & Biochemistry
Affiliate Faculty - Bioengineering
BSB 11.562
Lab website
Tags: Biochemistry and Chemical Biology Materials and Polymers Organic Chemistry Bionanosciences

Professional Preparation

Postdoctoral Fellow - Nanotechnology
Northwestern University - 2013
Ph.D. - Chemistry
University of Notre Dame - 2009
B.S. (Hons) - Chemistry
Indiana University - 2003

Research Areas

The synthesis of small, hollow and well-defined structures on the order of 20-500 nm is a challenge when their application depends on ensuring both structural integrity as well as a narrow diameter profile. Our group aims to exploit the well-defined structure of hollow viral capsids as templates for these materials and explore their function within biological systems as therapeutic as well as diagnostic agents. For instance, we have shown that tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) can be encapsulated inside a shell of zeolitic imidazolate framework ZIF-8 (a type of metal-organic framework), which protects the rod-shaped virus inside from organic solvents and high temperatures. The ZIF-8 shell itself is highly porous, which permits chemical modification of the amino acids on the surface of the virus, even when it is encapsulated within the protective shell. In principle, this allows for the virus to retain functionality while shielding it from, for instance, recognition by the immune system.
Stimuli Responsive Behavior
Manipulation of materials at the nanoscale depends upon being able to affect them using extant sources like magnetic fields, redox chemistry, light, local pH, or heat. We aim to create materials that respond predictably and selectively to these external forces causing a change in structure and the production of useful work. For instance, we have been integrating light-responsive behavior into viral capsids to release drugs within cells. Our interests even extend to thermal actuation of molecular single crystals and turn-on or turn-off responses for in vivo or in vitro molecular probes.
Self-Assembly of Bio-Dielecrics
Application-based research on the different allotropes of carbon over the past decade has been staggering as these materials offer ways to shrink electronic devices, strengthen materials, and improve the properties of both semiconductors and conductors. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs), for instance, have interesting electrochemical properties, but in their production, mixtures of metallic and semiconducting CNTs of differing chiralities form, and economic methods of processing them have proved a barrier to commercial applications. We aim to study non-covalent methods of modifying CNTs to meet these goals by employing well-established principles of self-assembly to this new area of research.   


Virus-like particles: a self-assembled toolbox for cancer therapy 2022 - Journal Article
Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework Nanoencapsulation of CpG for Stabilization and Enhancement of Immunoadjuvancy 2022 - Journal Article
Supramolecular Reinforcement of a Large-Pore 2D Covalent Organic Framework 2022 - Journal Article
Virus Like Particles: A Self-Assembled Toolbox for Cancer Therapy 2022 - Other
Strong π-stacking causes unusually large anisotropic thermal expansion and thermochromism 2021 - Journal Article
Stabilization of supramolecular membrane protein–lipid bilayer assemblies through immobilization in a crystalline exoskeleton 2021 - Journal Article
Expanding Inclusivity with Learner-Generated Study Aids in Three Different Science Courses 2021 - Journal Article
PhotothermalPhage: A Virus-Based Photothermal Therapeutic Agent 2021 - Journal Article


President's Teaching Award - University of Texas at Dallas [2021]
Career Award - National Science Foundation [2017]
Faculty Teaching Award - School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics [2015]


Affiliated Faculty—Advanced Imaging Research Center
UT Southwestern [2017–Present]
Affiliate Faculty—Department of Biomedical Engineering
UT Dallas [2017–Present]
Associate Member—Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center
UT Southwestern [2017–Present]
Editorial Advisor Board—Wires Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology
Wiley Publishing [–Present]

News Articles

Lipid Research May Help Solve COVID-19 Vaccine Challenges
Lipid Research May Help Solve COVID-19 Vaccine Challenges New research by University of Texas at Dallas scientists could help solve a major challenge in the deployment of certain COVID-19 vaccines worldwide — the need for the vaccines to be kept at below-freezing temperatures during transport and storage.

In a study published online April 13 in Nature Communications, the researchers demonstrate a new, inexpensive technique that generates crystalline exoskeletons around delicate liposomes and other lipid nanoparticles and stabilizes them at room temperature for an extended period — up to two months — in their proof-of-concept experiments.

The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines use lipid nanoparticles — basically spheres of fat molecules — to protect and deliver the messenger RNA that generates a vaccine recipient’s immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Researchers Brighten Path for Creating New Type of MRI Contrast Agent
Researchers Brighten Path for Creating New Type of MRI Contrast Agent University of Texas at Dallas researchers are breathing new life into an old MRI contrast agent by attaching it to a plant virus and wrapping it in a protective chemical cage.

The novel strategy is aimed at developing a completely organic and biodegradable compound that would eliminate the need to use heavy metals such as gadolinium in contrast agents, said Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and corresponding author of a study published Feb. 5 in the journal Chemical Science, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
UT Dallas Scientists Study the Powers of Tiny Crystals
UT Dallas Scientists Study the Powers of Tiny Crystals When it comes to the way scientists react to their discoveries, “That’s interesting” falls somewhere between “Eureka!” and “Uh-oh.”

“Interesting” is just what Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith and his graduate student Madushani Dharmarwardana thought when they noticed unusual behavior in a sample of crystals they were working with in Gassensmith’s chemistry lab at The University of Texas at Dallas.

As part of her doctoral research, Dharmarwardana was investigating how the material, from a family of organic semiconducting materials called naphthalene diimides, changes color from orange to yellow as it is heated.
Chemistry Team Works to Make Medicines Go Viral with New NSF Grant
Chemistry Team Works to Make Medicines Go Viral with New NSF Grant Over time, viruses have evolved very efficient methods for making us sick, but a UT Dallas researcher thinks that same efficiency could be exploited to improve human health.

Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, recently received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation to investigate the use of viruses for precisely delivering therapeutic drugs to the body.  

The five-year, $500,000 grant supports work that is a continuation of research originally done by two doctoral students in Gassensmith’s lab — Zhuo Chen and Candace Benjamin. Both will play lead roles in the new project.
Recipients of NSM Teaching Awards Go the Extra Mile for Students
Recipients of NSM Teaching Awards Go the Extra Mile for Students When UT Dallas students in an analytical chemistry class complained that the labs were too boring, course instructor Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith turned the tables on them.

“I said, ‘Make me an awesome lab and I’ll integrate it into the course,’ ” said Gassensmith, an assistant professor of chemistry.

The undergraduates responded by creating an experiment in which they hack the ingredients of impostor fragrances using a technique called mass spectroscopy and a database of known chemical compounds.


Editorial Advisory Board of Chemical Science
Associate Member of the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center UT Southwestern