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Eric Simanek - Texas Christian University. Fort Worth, TX, US

Eric Simanek

Robert A. Welch Chair of Chemistry | Texas Christian University


Dr. Simanek’s interests include whiskey, science education and basic scientific research aimed at the design of new medicines.



Eric Simanek Publication



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Episode 228. Erick Simanek – Director of the TCU IdeaFactory - MoxieTalk with Kirt Jacobs TCU's Teacher/Scholar Model At Work




Simanek was born in Illinois surrounded by fields of corn that was intended for feed or alcohol. He studied biology and chemistry at the University of Illinois, taking a degree in the latter. He completed his Ph.D. under the direction of George Whitesides at Harvard before moving to the labs of Chi-Huey Wong at Scripps.

Simanek started his independent career at Texas A&M University, where he rose through the ranks before moving to Texas Christian University as the Robert A. Welch Chair. He currently serves as chair of the department as well.

His research focuses on using organic chemistry to create molecules that could positively impact human health. Areas of interest include cancer treatment, gene therapy and more recently, the design of novel drugs. Agencies that have supported his research include the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the USDA, the FDA and DARPA.

Areas of Expertise (10)

Medicinal Chemistry


Intellectual Property & Patent Management

Expert Witness

Interdisciplinary Education

Entrepreneurship Ed

Science Education

Higher Education

Higher Education Administration

Organic and Polymer Chemistry

Accomplishments (5)

Science - Curing Prostate Cancer in Mice (professional)

In collaboration with researchers at UTSW, we have shown that our tree-shaped polymers can deliver drugs that 'cure' human prostate cancer in mice at doses equivalent to that of the clinical standard of care.

Science - Very large tree-shaped polymers (professional)

We have succeeded in making a single molecule, a polymer that is branched like a tree, that is as big as the viruses that cause the common cold. Achieving such dimensions, 30 nanometers across, are feats for chemistry.

Education - TCU IdeaFactory (professional)

The TCU IdeaFactory was created to allow students to pursue dreams of social action and/or entrepreneurship outside the scope of classes. Dr. Simanek was the founding director and now has transitioned to chair the advisory board.

Education - Whiskey Science & History (professional)

Dr. Simanek creates and teaches interdisciplinary courses including this one.

Education - Cerebral Palsy & Dance (professional)

Dr. Nina Martin included Dr. Simanek on her course to engage students in research to determine how much her movement intervention improved the lives of people living with CP.

Education (3)

Harvard University: Ph.D. 1996

The Scripps Research Institute: Post-doctoral Fellowship, medicinal chemistry 1998

University of Illinois- Urbana/Champaign: BS Chemistry, chemistry and biology 1991

Affiliations (7)

  • TCU IdeaFactory - Founding/former director, Chair of Advisory Committee
  • Fort Worth Medical School Affiliated Faculty
  • Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies Affiliated Faculty
  • Women & Gender Studies Affiliated Faculty
  • American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP)

Languages (1)

  • Rudimentary Spanish

Media Appearances (5)

Spirited Science

TCU College of Science & Engineering  online


Eric Simanek, chair of TCU's Chemistry Department, leads the TCU Whiskey School. In his lectures, Simanek examines how science, technology, law, history, and art have impacted whiskey production. The TCU Whiskey School is divided into 13 stand-alone workshops that run two hours each and explore different topics. Each workshop has around 40 participants who will receive a certificate for completing the sessions. Most recently, "Bourbon and Other American Whiskeys" explored the 35 different legislated styles of American whiskey. One of the perks of these classes is that participants don’t just talk about whiskey, they get to sample it.

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Dance Leads to Therapeutic Potential

TCU Magazine  online


Upon returning to TCU, Martin talked with Eric Simanek, the Robert A. Welch professor of chemistry, to strategize on the best methods to conduct her research. “What she accomplishes through this method is remarkable,” said Simanek, who also serves as chair of organic chemistry. “There are not only the physical benefits it provides to the participant, which we are learning more about all the time, but there is also an emotional benefit that could be incalculable.”

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Teaching whiskey to college students

The Washington Post  print


Dr. Simanek's course entitled "Whiskey: Science & History" is explained in the Op-Ed piece for the Washington Post. For 15 weeks, I meet twice a week with a dozen students to talk about whiskey. We grind grain and mash grist, ferment it to yield alcohol, practice distillation, and examine bourbons, Scotches and other whiskeys. The course requires them to distinguish a Manhattan, Sazerac and Old Fashioned. But after about three weeks, students realize the class is not really about whiskey. Their first clue is discussion of the Big Bang...

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Not So Neat: Why You Should Add Water to Your Whiskey

Inside Science  online


Dr. Simanek appears as an expert for writers on whiskey including this piece describing the work of a Swedish group and the use of computer modeling to explain what happens when a few drops of water are added to whiskey.

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In Memoriam: 'Lucky' The Mystical Albino Squirrel At The University Of North Texas, Dies

KERA News  online


Five stories that have North Texas talking...including the recognition of Dr. Simanek's book on the science of whiskey co-author with Rob Arnold of F&R Distilling (makers of TX).

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Event Appearances (1)

Whiskey lectures

The Science & History of Whiskey  Please see ericsimanek.com for a current list

Research Focus (1)

Designing New Drugs

Like chefs in a molecular kitchen, we are exploring new ways to design drugs to address current problems in human health including the treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases as well as looking for the next generation of antibiotics.

Patents (1)

None active


Previous included chemical entity and a teaching aide

Research Grants (1)

Current support available upon request


Our work has been supported on NIH SBIRs, NIH U01, NIH RO1, NSF, NSF GK12, NSF TUES, NSF EAGER, NSF RAPID, USDA, DOD, DARPA, the Welch Foundation and others

Articles (4)

Complete List Available

A range of peer reviewed journals

Dr. Simanek's lab has produced more than 100 scientific publications ranging from education to medicine and materials science.

Intrinsic Fluorescence of Triazine Dendrimers Provides a New Approach to Study Dendrimer Structure and Conformational Dynamics

The Journal of Physiscal Chemistry C

Sangram Raut, Alan E. Enciso, Giovanni M. Pavan, Changsuk Lee, Akop Yepremyan, Donald A. Tomalia, Eric E. Simanek , and Zygmunt Gryczynski

2017 We present basic spectroscopic studies of 5 triazine dendrimers ranging from generations one through nine, G1, G3, G5, G7, and G9, based on the intrinsic fluorescence of these molecules. The extinction spectra of each generation can be separated into two components; the absorption spectra from triazine chromophores and Rayleigh scattering by dendrimer particles. Rayleigh scattering into the UV spectral range is significant and may contribute more than 50% to the measured light attenuation (extinction) for larger dendrimer generations. Deviations from the Rayleigh model at long wavelengths (where the triazine chromophore does not absorb) are clear indications of dendrimer aggregation. These larger particles can be eliminated by dilution and sonication. Importantly, this model system represents a comprehensive case study where the intrinsic fluorescence of the dendrimer when combined with insights from molecular dynamics (MD) simulations can be utilized to probe molecular conformations and dynamics. Experimental results from fluorescence lifetimes, time-resolved anisotropies, and diffusional quenching indicate an increasingly compact core as size increases from G1 to G5. This trend is reversed for G7 and G9 generations, which present more extended, and porous structures, less dense cores, and a denser peripheries. Simulations corroborate this picture and better anchor intuition of the behavior of these molecules.

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Nanoparticle Effects on Human Platelets in Vitro: A Comparison between PAMAM and Triazine Dendrimers


Alan E. Enciso, Barry Neun, Jamie Rodriguez, Amalendu P. Ranjan, Marina A. Dobrovolskaia, and Eric E. Simanek

2016 Triazine and PAMAM dendrimers of similar size and number of cationic surface groups were compared for their ability to promote platelet aggregation. Triazine dendrimers (G3, G5 and G7) varied in molecular weight from 8 kDa–130 kDa and in surface groups 16–256. PAMAM dendrimers selected for comparison included G3 (7 kDa, 32 surface groups) and G6 (58 kDa, 256 surface groups). The treatment of human platelet-rich plasma (PRP) with low generation triazine dendrimers (0.01–1 µM) did not show any significant effect in human platelet aggregation in vitro; however, the treatment of PRP with larger generations promotes an effective aggregation. These results are in agreement with studies performed with PAMAM dendrimers, where large generations promote aggregation. Triazine dendrimers promote aggregation less aggressively than PAMAM dendrimers, a factor attributed to differences in cationic charge or the formation of supramolecular assemblies of dendrimers.

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Nonviral Vectors for Gene Delivery

Chemical Reviews

Meredith A. Mintzer and Eric E. Simanek

For many years, considered the comprehensive review of molecules designed to facilitate gene delivery.

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