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For an old institution to stay great, it must continually adapt to the needs of a changing world. One way it must do that, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt said, is to prepare students to be leaders of change through entrepreneurship and innovation.

That was Folt’s message in her opening remarks at the 12th International Nanomedicine and Drug Delivery Symposium, the premiere nanotechnology event of the year. Alexander Kabanov, Mescal Swaim Ferguson Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, founded the annual event 11 years ago.

The theme is the formula that Carolina continues to follow as it prepares to celebrate its 221st birthday Sunday on University Day.

“Two hundred and twenty-one years is a long time,” said Folt. “And it takes innovation, ingenuity and hard work to stay great for that long a time.”

Nanomedicine, she added, is making revolutionary changes in diagnosing and treating cancer thanks to talented scientists, engineers and clinicians.

The keynote speaker was Leaf Huang, Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor, and was given in memory of Feng Liu, a research professor in the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics who passed away in July.

This marks the first time the symposium has been held at Carolina, and it is the largest nanotech and drug delivery conference ever with more than 275 registered participants from 11 different countries. Perhaps that’s no coincidence considering UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and UNC-Chapel Hill have perhaps one of the nation’s strongest groups of nanomedicine scientists and clinicians.

Tuesday, the symposium will hold an industrial session panel featuring industry leaders, investors and academic specialists in technology transfer to discuss how researchers can translate ideas into applied results.

It will also feature for the first time a panel to discuss nanomedicine education. The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy is currently ranked No. 2 among all schools in doctor of pharmacy programs in the United States by U.S. News & World Report and has been recognized nationally for implementing educational innovation in the pharmacy curriculum. The conference will be used to discuss how to advance innovations to further improve training of professional, graduate and postdoctoral students who will work in the field associated with nanomedicine.

Carolina scientists have made major discoveries and innovations in the nanomedicine field resulting in intellectual property, companies, jobs and economic development in the state. One such example is the invention of PRINT technology by Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry Joe DeSimone that led to the formation of Liquidia in North Carolina and successfully develops and clinically evaluates nanotechnology vaccines.

“Overall, this is a forward-looking meeting,” said Kabanov. “Nearly half of this year’s participants are graduate students and post-docs, nearly half of the invited speakers are most brilliant junior faculty within five years of their first appointment, and nearly half of them are woman.”

Story by Communications and Public Affairs

Photo by Carol Perry, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Updated October 7, 2014