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Jeremiah Gassensmith

Associate Professor – Chemistry & Biochemistry
Affiliate Faculty - Bioengineering
BSB 11.562
Lab website

Not currently accepting undergraduate students


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.   


The Promise and Potential of Metal–Organic Frameworks and Covalent Organic Frameworks in Vaccine Nanotechnology 2024 - Journal Article
The Promise and Potential of Metal-Organic Frameworks and Covalent Organic Frameworks in Vaccine Nanotechnology 2024 - Other
In vivo biocompatibility of ZIF-8 for slow release via intranasal administration 2023 - Journal Article
Biolistic delivery of liposomes protected in metal-organic frameworks 2023 - Journal Article
In VivoBiocompatibility of ZIF-8 for Slow Release via Intranasal Administration 2023 - Other
In Vivo Biocompatibility of ZIF-8 for Slow Release via Intranasal Administration 2023 - Other
Expanding past ZIF-8: Biomimetic mineralization using other MOFs 2023 - Journal Article
Rip it, stitch it, click it: A Chemist's guide to VLP manipulation 2022 - 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]

News Articles

The Science of BBQ: A ‘Complicated Circus of Chemicals’
Brisket pulled out of the smoker Cooking the perfect brisket is a lot like conducting a science experiment. And Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith should know — he’s both a chemist and backyard barbecue chef.

The challenge is to apply just the right amount of heat and at the right speed to melt proteins called collagen in the meat to transform a tough, muscular cut of beef into a classic Texas delicacy, said Gassensmith, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Scared of needles? A puff of gas could one day deliver your vaccine
Yalini Wijesundara and Sneha Kumari are outstanding scientists that helped develop the MOF-Jet in Gassensmith's lab Yalini Wijesundara stared at the air gun sitting in her lab.

Her lab director, Jeremiah Gassensmith, had built it in a spur of pandemic-induced boredom, shooting table salt around his home office. Once lockdown ended, he brought it to his biochemistry lab and asked Wijesundara to find a research purpose for it.

Wijesundara, then a first-year graduate student at the University of Texas at Dallas, had just moved to Texas from Sri Lanka. She felt like a fish out of water, still figuring out how the lab worked. Take your time, Gassensmith told her. You’ll figure it out.

Two years later, Wijesundara cracked the code. She brought new life to Gassensmith’s old air gun, creating a system to deliver vaccines with a puff of gas. It’s less painful than traditional needle vaccines, Wijesundara said, comparable to being hit by a Nerf bullet. The research was published in the journal Chemical Science last year.

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.


Associate Editor Chemical Engineering Journal
Handling articles on bioengineering, chemical reaction engineering, and novel materials
Editorial Advisory Board of Chemical Science
Associate Member of the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center UT Southwestern