Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
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Kenan Institute appoints Joseph DeSimone as new director


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.

Joseph Desimone
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 as the director of the Kenan Institute for 22 years. Kasarda will continue his aerotropolis work as Kenan Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler and director of the Kenan Institute’s Center for Air Commerce.

“We are very pleased to welcome Joseph DeSimone to the Kenan Institute,” said James W. Dean Jr., dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler. “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.”

“Rooted in the visionary leadership of Frank Hawkins Kenan and John Kasarda, the Kenan Institute is central to UNC’s continued leadership as an entrepreneurial university in the 21st century,” DeSimone said. “I am forever grateful for the unbelievably strong support that I and the University continue to receive from the Kenan family. 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. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help drive the institute forward at this critical juncture.”

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 Triangle-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.

Visionary entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Hawkins Kenan created the Kenan Institute in 1985 to promote collaboration among business, government and academia and to promote the growth of private enterprise worldwide and the use of private-sector resources to serve the public interest. Nearly three decades later, the impact of the institute's research and initiatives is visible in thriving communities and companies from rural North Carolina to the Greater Mekong sub-region of Asia.

About UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School

Consistently ranked one of the world's best business schools, UNC Kenan-Flagler is known for its extraordinary learning experiences and innovative research and for developing results-driven leaders who use business as an engine for global change. UNC Kenan-Flagler prepares people at every stage of their careers to manage successfully in the global business environment through its five MBA programs (full-time residential, evening and weekend MBA programs for executives, global OneMBA and online MBA@UNC); master of accounting program; undergraduate business program; Ph.D. program; non-degree executive eevelopment; and the UNC business essentials certificate program.