Schmitt receives Research Innovators Award from College of Ag Sciences

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Anthony Schmitt, professor of virology, is the 2021 recipient of the Research Innovators Award, given by the Office for Research and Graduate Education and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

The award recognizes faculty and staff who have commercialized intellectual property generated by their Penn State research. Schmitt will receive the award, which includes a $3,000 stipend, at a virtual ceremony scheduled for May 11.

Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones will provide remarks at the ceremony, which is open to the public. The event also will feature brief research presentations by the awardees from 2020 and 2021.

Schmitt is being recognized for his innovative research on novel protein delivery into cells and its impact on human and animal health.

“Since joining Penn State in 2005, Dr. Schmitt has worked diligently to establish himself as an expert in paramyxovirus particle assembly and virus budding from infected cells,” wrote K. Sandeep Prabhu, head of the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, in his nomination letter.

Anthony Schmitt, professor of virology. Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

“He has exploited these discoveries to develop a truly novel and intriguing technology for the delivery of therapeutic proteins to cells, which has the potential to revolutionize protein delivery.”

Schmitt’s research focuses on understanding viral and host protein interactions that contribute to the formation of paramyxovirus particles and developing new strategies to exploit these interactions and inhibit virus replication.

In recent years, his research group discovered a way to manipulate virus-like particles so that they will package any protein of interest as cargo. This finding led to the development of a new protein delivery technology in which therapeutic proteins, such as CRISPR enzymes, are incorporated into virus-like particles, which then deliver the contents to the cytoplasms of target cells.

The Journal of Virology published these findings in 2016, selecting the paper as a “Spotlight” publication. The Penn State Office of Technology Management successfully had patents issued for this technology in the U.S. in 2019 and in the European Union in 2020.

Since the patent was filed, Schmitt has worked with industry partners to facilitate commercialization. In 2017, a research consortia initiated a project to expand the technology to include CRISPR enzyme cargos. A startup biotechnology company carried out two funded projects to further develop the technology in 2020.

Schmitt received a Research Applications for INnovation (RAIN) grant through the college and a seed grant from Penn State’s Center of Excellence in Industrial Biotechnology.

Schmitt holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and a doctorate in biological chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. He completed postdoctoral training in molecular virology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

To register for the ceremony, visit

Last Updated May 10, 2021