The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise has appointed Joseph M. DeSimone as its new director. DeSimone is a 1986 graduate of Ursinus College and Vice President of the Board of Trustees. He 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.
“We are very pleased to welcome Joseph DeSimone to the Kenan Institute,” said James W. Dean Jr., dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler. Dean said DeSimone is a “world-renowend scholar,” an “innovative entrepreneur,” who 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 UNC’s 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’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 North Carolina-based nanotechnology company, to further develop the PRINT technology.Liquidia has its first product – a nanoparticle flu vaccine – in clinical trials. In June, Liquidia announced the initiation of a multiyear collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, potentially worth several hundred million dollars. The efforts of the two companies as a result of this agreement could lead to the development of multiple life-saving health-care products.
DeSimone is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, an adjunct member at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and director of the Institute for Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Technology and the Institute for Nanomedicine at UNC. He has been elected to both the National Academy of sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honors that a U.S. scientist or engineer can receive.
DeSimone received a bachelor of science in chemistry degree from Ursinus College in 1986 and a doctorate in chemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1990.