Theresa Reineke, PhD, MS

Theresa Reineke

239 Smith Hall
United States

Theresa M. Reineke, PhD is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota and holds graduate faculty appointments in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Pharmaceutics. Her research group is focused on enabling fundamental and applied technology advancements in three main areas: 1) the design of polymer-based delivery systems for DNA and RNA to treat genetic diseases, 2) the development of polymer-based delivery systems for enhancing oral delivery of important drugs, and 3) the creation of sustainable and environmentally friendly polymers/plastics from naturally occurring chemicals derived from plants.

At UMN, Professor Reineke is the Director of a MN Innovation Partnership with Dow Chemical Company and leads the Polymer Interdisciplinary Research Group of the UMN Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. Professor Reineke also serves as Publicity Chair for the American Chemical Society Polymer Chemistry (POLY) Division and is the founding faculty advisor of the UMN Student Chapter of the ACS POLY/PMSE Division. She is currently on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the ACS journals Biomacromolecules and Bioconjugate Chemistry, and is a founding Associate Editor of ACS MacroLetters. The work of the Reineke Group is the founding technology of Techulon, Inc. a startup biotechnology firm.





  • Monomer and polymer synthesis
  • Carbohydrate chemistry
  • DNA and RNA delivery
  • Polymer-cell interactions
  • Transfection reagents
  • Nucleic acid therapeutics
  • Drug delivery
  • Drug-polymer interactions
  • Controlled-release
  • Excipient development
  • Oral drug delivery
  • Intracellular mechanisms of delivery
  • Lanthanide-organic chemistry
  • Imaging agent design
  • Theranostic agent design
  • Chemical detection and sensing
  • Sustainable polymers
  • Adhesives, coatings, and elastomers
  • Stimuli responsive and shape memory polymers
  • Thermosets and gels


Awards & Recognition


2017 Distinguished McKnight University Professorship (UMN)

2017 Carl S. Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award (American Chemical Society Polymer Chemistry Division)

2016 Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award

2016 George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Research (UMN)

2016 AIMBE Fellow (American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering)

2012 Outstanding New Investigator Award (American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy)

2012 American Chemical Society (PMSE Division) Macro 2012 Lecture Award

2011 Lloyd H. Reyerson Professorship (UMN)

2009 National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award

2008 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

2007 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship

2007 YWCA Rising Star (Academy of Career Women of Achievement)

2007–2009 Kavli Fellow (National Academy of Sciences “Frontiers of Science” Program)

2007 OH Bioscience Thirty in Their 30s Award

2006–2008 Lowenstein Scholar (University of Cincinnati)

2005 Beckman Young Investigator Award

2005 Sigma Xi Outstanding Young Investigator Award

2005 National Science Foundation CAREER Award

2003 American Chemical Society(PMSE Division), Arthur K. Doolittle Award

2002 National Institutes of Health, Individual National Research Service Award

2000 Outstanding Graduate Research Award from the Wirt and Mary Cornell Prize

1998–2000 Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Graduate Fellowship

1999 Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant Award (Arizona State University)

1998–1999 Pew Charitable Trusts – Preparing Future Faculty Fellow

1997 Excellence as a Teaching Assistant Award (Arizona State University)


Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Department of Chemistry

Adjunct Pharmaceutics Faculty, Department of Pharmaceutics

Graduate Faculty Advisor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, College of Science and Engineering

Associate Editor, ACS Macro Letters

Faculty, Masters Program in Stem Cell Biology

NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

PhD in Chemistry, University of Michigan

MS in Chemistry, Arizona State University

BS in Chemistry/Physics, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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Research Summary/Interests

The Reineke Group specializes in the synthetic design, chemical characterization, and biological study of sophisticated macromolecules.

Synthetic materials play important roles in everyday life, from the diagnosis and treatment of diseases to the advancement of renewable materials and commercial products. Consequently, understanding how polymers affect living systems fundamentally and govern macroscopic functionality remains vital to solving pressing problems in today’s biomedical and sustainability landscapes. The Reineke Research Group seeks to discover novel polymeric vehicles and strategies to (i) safely deliver nucleic acids and drugs, (ii) impart enhanced material performance from sustainable feedstocks, and (iii) elucidate cellular-level mechanisms in biomaterials and animals.

Our research efforts are interdisciplinary in nature and encompass the areas of chemistry, chemical biology, materials science, and engineering. Click on a subject area below to learn more about our goals and ongoing projects.


Y. Jiang, D. Sprouse, J. Laaser, Y. Dhande, T. M. Reineke, T. P. Lodge "Complexation of Linear DNA and Polystyrene Sulfonate with Cationic Copolymer Micelles: Effect of Polyanion Flexibility", J. Phys. Chem. B 2017, Accepted.

L. M. Lillie, W. B. Tolman, T. M. Reineke "Structure/Property Relationships in Copolymers Comprising Renewable Isosorbide, Glucarodilactone, and 2,5-Bis(hydroxymethyl)furan Subunits", Polym. Chem. 2017, Advance Article.

J. M. Ting, R. G. Ricarte, D. K. Schneiderman, S. A. Saba, Y. Jiang, M. A. Hillmyer, F. S. Bates, T. M. Reineke, C. W. Macosko, T. P. Lodge "Polymer Day: Outreach Experiments for High School Students", J. Chem. Educ. 2017, Article ASAP. [Link]

J. E. Laaser, M. McGovern, Y. Jiang, E. Lohmann, T. M. Reineke, D. Morse, K. Dorfman, T. P. Lodge "Equilibration of Micelle?Polyelectrolyte Complexes: Mechanistic Differences between Static and Annealed Charge Distributions", J. Phys. Chem. B 2017, 121, 4631–4641. [Link]

R. Ricarte, Z. Li, L. Johnson, J. Ting, T. M. Reineke, F. S. Bates, M. A. Hillmyer, T. P. Lodge "Direct Observation of Nanostructures During Aqueous Dissolution of Polymer/Drug Particles", Macromolecules 2017, 50, 3143–3152. [Link]

S. Jung, T. P. Lodge, T. M. Reineke "Complexation Between DNA and Hydrophilic-Cationic Diblock Copolymers", J. Phys. Chem. B 2017, 121, 2230–2243. [Link]

J. Zheng, S. Jung, P. Schmidt, T. P. Lodge, T. M. Reineke "2-Hydroxyethylcellulose and Amphiphilic Block Polymer Conjugates Form Mechanically Tunable and Nonswellable Hydrogels", ACS Macro Lett. 2017, 6, 145–149. [Link]

W. Boyle, K. Senger, J. Tolar, T. M. Reineke "Heparin Enhances Transfection in Concert with Trehalose-Based Polycations with Challenging Cell Types", Biomacromolecules 2017, 18, 56–67. [Link]

Q. Zhang, M. Molenda, T. M. Reineke "Epoxy resin thermosets derived from trehalose and ?-cyclodextrin", Macromolecules 2016, 49, 8397–8406. [Link]

J. Ting, S. Tale, A. Purchel, S. Jones, L. Widanapathirana, Z. Tolstyka, L. Guo, S. Guillaudeu, F. S. Bates, T. M. Reineke "High–throughput Excipient Discovery Enables Oral Delivery of Poorly Soluble Pharmaceuticals", ACS Cent. Sci. 2016, 2, 748–755. [Link]

J. Laaser, E. Lohmann, Y. Jiang, T. M. Reineke, T. P. Lodge "Architecture-Dependent Stabilization of Polyelectrolyte Complexes Between Polyanions and Cationic Triblock Terpolymer Micelles", Macromolecules 2016, 49, 6644–6654. [Link]

D. Sprouse, Y. Jiang, J. Laaser, T. P. Lodge, T. M. Reineke "Tuning Cationic Block Copolymer Micelle Size by pH and Ionic Strength", Biomacromolecules 2016, 17, 2849–2859. [Link]

M. Nasiri, T. M. Reineke "Sustainable glucose-based block copolymers exhibit elastomeric and adhesive behavior", Polym. Chem. 2016, 7, 5233–5240. [Link]

V. M. Szlag, M. J. Styles, L. R. Madison, A. R. Campos, B. S. Wagh, D. Sprouse, G. C. Schatz, T. M. Reineke, C. L. Haynes "SERS Detection of Ricin B-Chain via N-Acetyl-Galactosamine Glycopolymers", ACS Sens. 2016, 1, 842–846. [Link]

J. J. Gallagher, M. A. Hillmyer, T. M. Reineke "Acrylic triblock copolymers incorporating isosorbide for pressure sensitive adhesives", ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2016, 4, 3379–3387. [Link]

P. Agrawal, N. P. Ingle, W. Boyle, E. Ward, J. Tolar, K. Dorfman, T. M. Reineke "Fast, efficient and gentle transfection of human adherent cells in suspension", ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2016, 8, 8870–8874. [Link]

K. Hurley, H. Ring, M. Etheridge, J. Zhang, Z. Gao, Q. Shao, N. Klein, V. Szlag, C. Chung, T. M. Reineke, M. Garwood, J. Bischof, C. Haynes "Predictable Heating and Positive MRI Contrast from a Mesoporous Silica-Coated Iron Oxide Nanoparticle", Mol. Pharmaceutics 2016, 13, 2172–2183. [Link]

N. Wilkinson, A. Metaxas, E. Ruud, E. Raethke, S. Wickramaratne, T. M. Reineke, C. S. Dutcher "Internal Structure Visualization of Polymer–Clay Flocculants Using Fluorescence", Colloid Interface Sci. Commun. 2016, 10-11, 1-5. [Link]

Y. Dhande, B. Wagh, B. Hall, D. Sprouse, P. Hackett, T. M. Reineke "N-Acetylgalactosamine Block-co-Polycations Form Stable Polyplexes with Plasmids and Promote Liver-Targeted Delivery", Biomacromolecules 2016, 17, 830–840. [Link]

T. M. Reineke "Stimuli Responsive Polymers For Biological Detection and Delivery", ACS Macro Lett. 2016, 5, 14-18. [Link]

D. Sprouse, T. M. Reineke, M. E. Davis "Polymeric Delivery Vehicles for Exogenous Nucleic Acid Delivery", Reference Module in Materials Science and Materials Engineering 2016, Elsevier, ISBN: 9780128035818. [Link]

Z. Tolstyka, H. R. Phillips, M. Cortez, Y. Wu, N. P. Ingle, J. Bell, P. Hackett, T. M. Reineke "Trehalose-Based Block Copolycations Promote Polyplex Stabilization for Lyophilization and In Vivo pDNA Delivery", ACS Biomat. Sci. Eng. 2016, 2, 43–55. [Link]

J. Laaser, Y. Jiang, S. Petersen, T. M. Reineke, T. P. Lodge "Interpolyelectrolyte Complexes of Polycationic Micelles and Linear Polyanions: Structural Stability and Temporal Evolution", J. Phys. Chem. B 2015, 119, 15919–15928. [Link]

J. M. Ting, T. S. Navale, S. D. Jones, F. S. Bates, T. M. Reineke "Deconstructing HPMCAS: Excipient Design to Tailor Polymer-drug Interactions for Oral Administration", ACS Biomat. Sci. Eng. 2015, 1, 978-990. [Link]

L. Xue, S. S. Kelkar, X. Wang, J. Ma, L. A. Madsen, T. M. Reineke "A theranostic polycation containing trehalose and lanthanide chelate domains for siRNA delivery and monitoring", RSC Adv. 2015, 5, 74102-74106. [Link]

L. Widanapathirana, S. Tale, T. M. Reineke "Dissolution and solubility enhancement of the highly lipophilic drug phenytoin via interaction with poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-vinylpyrrolidone) excipients", Mol. Pharmaceutics 2015, 12, 2537–2543. [Link]

J. Laaser, Y. Jiang, D. Sprouse, T. M. Reineke, T. P. Lodge "pH- and Ionic Strength-Induced Contraction of Polybasic Micelles in Buffered Aqueous Solutions", Macromolecules 2015, 48, 2677–2685. [Link]

J. J. Gallagher, M. A. Hillmyer, T. M. Reineke "Isosorbide-based Polymethacrylates", ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2015, 3, 662–667. [Link]