Dr. Tomalia received his B.A. in chemistry from the University of Michigan and while at The Dow Chemical Company completed his Ph.D. in physical-organic chemistry from Michigan State University under the mentorship of Professor Harold Hart. His discovery of the cationic polymerization of 2-oxazolines led to two international industrial research awards (R&D-100) for creative research in 1978 and 1986. His discovery of dendrimers (dendritic polymer architecture) in 1979 led to a third R&D-100 Award in 1991 and the Leonardo da Vinci Award (Paris, France) in 1996. He received the Society of Polymer Science Japan (SPSJ) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Polymer Science (2003) for discovery of the fourth major macromolecular architectural class, dendritic polymers. He was the recipient of the Wallace H. Carothers Award (ACS) in 2012. Dr. Tomalia was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2016.
In 1990, he joined the Michigan Molecular Institute (MMI) as Professor and Director of Nanoscale Chemistry & Architecture (1990-99). Dendritech, Inc., the first commercial producer of dendrimers, was co-founded by Dr. Tomalia in 1992 after which he was named founding President and Chief Scientist (1992-2000). He became V.P. of Technology for MMI (1998-2000) while simultaneously serving as Scientific Director for the Biologic Nanotechnology Center, University Michigan Medical School (1998-2000). Dr. Tomalia founded Dendritic Nanotechnologies, Inc. (DNT), Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, in a joint venture with Starpharma Pooled Development (Melbourne, Australia) (2002) and served as President/Chief Scientific Officer and Company Director (2002-2007).
Currently, he is the CEO/Founder of NanoSynthons. Dr. Tomalia currently serves as Associate Editor, Nanomedicine (Elsevier); Associate Editor, Journal of Nanoparticle Research; Editorial Advisory Board, Bioconjugate Chemistry; Faculty Member, Faculty 1000 Biology; Director of The National Dendrimer & Nanotechnology Center; Distinguished Visiting Professor (Columbia University, Chemistry); Adjunct Professor (University of Pennsylvania, Chemistry) and Affiliate Professor (Virginia Commonwealth University, Physics). He is the inventor of over 128 U.S. patents and author of >240 peer reviewed publications. In 2011, Tomalia was inducted into the Thomson Reuters Hall of Citation Laureates in Chemistry (i.e., 40 most highly cited scientists in the field of chemistry). His research interests have been focused on a new nano-periodic concept for unifying nanoscience and predicting nano-building block property patterns.