Kenan Institute appoints DeSimone as new director

The University’s Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise has appointed Joseph M. DeSimone as its new director.

DeSimone is the Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC and William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at NC State University and of Chemistry at UNC.

He replaces John D. Kasarda, who stepped down in June after serving 22 years as Kenan Institute director.

“We are very pleased to welcome Joseph DeSimone to the Kenan Institute,” said James W. Dean Jr., dean of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. “He is a world-renowned scholar in his field. As an innovative entrepreneur, he is applying his research to design novel nanomedicines for cancer therapy and to improve vaccines and drug delivery mechanisms. He is the perfect leader to continue the institute’s cutting-edge research and collaboration with business and communities to create positive local and global change.”

The Kenan Institute, part of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, pursues cutting-edge research, educational programs and public policy initiatives in the areas of entrepreneurship, economic development and global competitiveness.

DeSimone said the Kenan institute is central to UNC’s continued leadership as an entrepreneurial university.

“We are uniquely positioned to leverage the intellectual capital we have right here on campus, join it with some of the best and brightest minds from around the globe, and develop innovative market-based solutions to some of the most pressing global challenges of our time, including poverty, health, education, energy, sustainable development and economic growth,” he said. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help drive the institute forward at this critical juncture.”

DeSimone’s research focuses on applying lithographic fabrication technologies from the computer industry for the design and synthesis of new medicines and vaccines. He has almost 300 publications, is an inventor on more than 130 patents and has more than 100 patents pending. In 2004, DeSimone and his students invented a new technology to create nanoparticles using a process they coined as PRINT (Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates).

With PRINT, DeSimone and his team were the first to successfully adapt manufacturing techniques from the computer industry to make advances in medicine, including improved approaches to cancer treatment and diagnosis. Other projects include developing nanoparticle vaccines for infectious diseases, vaccines for cancer and particles that mimic red blood cells.

DeSimone co-founded Liquidia Technologies, a Triangle-based nanotechnology company, to further develop the PRINT technology. Liquidia has its first product – a nanoparticle flu vaccine – in clinical trials.

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