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Adam Weiss

Graduate Student

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About Adam

Adam Weiss grew up in Youngstown, Ohio and first conducted research at the Center for Layered Polymeric Systems (CLiPS) at Youngstown State University as a high school student. He then attended Ohio State University, where he received his B.S. with honors research distinction in chemistry and neuroscience while conducting his thesis research under Dr. Randy Nelson.


adam then joined the Chemistry PhD program at University of Chicago, where he is co-advised by Aaron Esser-Kahn and Stuart Rowan. He is supported in part by an NIH T32 Chemistry-Biology Interface training grant. Adam is the self-described “world’s biggest fan of IL-1β.”


Outside of lab, Adam enjoys running marathons, brewing beer, and captaining the chemistry department softball team.


PhD candidate in Chemistry, 2018-pres.

M.S. in Chemistry, University of Chicago, 2019

B.S. in chemistry and neuroscience, The Ohio State University, 2018

Favorite Quote

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

– Gandhi

Scientific Hero

Polly Matzinger

Favorite Paper

  1. “IL-1 and IL-1ra are key regulators of the inflammatory response to RNA vaccines” (

  2. “Prolonged activation of innate immune pathways by a polyvalent STING agonist” (

  3. “A conditioned dendritic cell can be a temporal bridge between a CD4 T helper and a Killer T cell” (

If you could be a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?


Adam's Research

Adam is a chemist by training, but he is excited to have taken up immunology over the past four years. In his research, he is leveraging his polymer chemistry background to ask “what makes a polymer a good polymer?” for the delivery of materials (such as lipid nanoparticles or polymeric drug delivery systems) to the immune system. Specifically, he hopes to understand how polymers’ physicochemical properties can alter activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, a potent immune danger sensor, with the goal of using optimized polymeric adjuvants for vaccination and immunotherapy. Additionally, Adam is interested in using his chemical background to design new molecular targets of the NLRP3 inflammasome and to understand the role of NLRP3 in immunogenic versus inflammatory responses to vaccines.

Lab Publications 

Manna S, Maiti S, Shen J, Weiss A, Mulder E, Du W, Esser-Kahn AP. Nanovaccine that activates the NLRP3 inflammasome enhances tumor specific activation of anti-cancer immunity. Biomaterials. 2023 May 1;296:122062. 

Uri Zvi, Adam Weiss, Denis Candido, Aidan Jones, Michael Flatté, Peter Maurer, Aaron Esser-Kahn, Iryna Golovina, Lingjie Chen Engineering Spin Coherence in Core-Shell Diamond Nanocrystals Bulletin of the American Physical Society 2023

Adam M. Weiss, Aaron P. Esser-Kahn, Size matters in non-canonical inflammasome activation and cell-mediated immunity  Cell Reports Medicine 2023.

 A.M. Weiss, S. Hossainy, S.J. Rowan, J.A. Hubbell, A.P. Esser-Kahn. Immunostimulatory Polymers as Adjuvants, Immunotherapies, and Delivery Systems. Macromolecules 2022 55, 16, 6913–6937.

A.M. Weiss,* J. Ajit,* T.J. Albin,* N. Kapoor, A. Berges, S. Maroju, L. Pill, J. Fairman, A.P. Esser-Kahn. Site-specific antigen-adjuvant conjugation using cell-free protein synthesis enhances antigen presentation and CD8+ T cell response. Scientific Reports 2021, 11, 6267. (* = contributed equally)

 A.M. Weiss, N.M. Macke, Y. Zhang, C. Calvino, A.P. Esser-Kahn, S.J. Rowan. In-vitro and in-vivo analyses of the effects of source, length, and charge on the cytotoxicity and immunocompatibility of cellulose nanocrystals. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering 2021, 7, 4, 1450-1461.

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