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Ke Cheng has been named executive director of interdisciplinary scholarship in the Office of University Interdisciplinary Programs, effective October 1, 2022. He will report directly to Rob Dunn, senior vice provost for University Interdisciplinary Programs, who made the announcement today Cheng is the Randall B. Terry, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Regenerative Medicine in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences and Department of Biomedical Engineering, which will remain his primary appointment. He is also a University Faculty Scholar and a member of the Translational Regenerative Medicine cluster in the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program.

“I am excited to welcome Ke into this new role, where his proven academic leadership and scholarship will greatly elevate the work of the Office of University Interdisciplinary Programs,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden. “His experience and service to the university make him the perfect fit to strengthen our commitment to interdisciplinary excellence that will serve the entire university community.”

As executive director of interdisciplinary scholarship, Cheng will work closely with Dunn and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Katharine Stewart, along with other senior members of the Provost’s Office, to enhance interdisciplinary scholarship on the campus. He will help create programs and events to allow faculty, especially junior faculty, to connect for interdisciplinary collaboration in the university.

Additionally, Cheng will facilitate working groups (modeled on similar groups at national synthesis centers, such as NESCent or SESYNC) through which NC State scholars, along with scholars from other institutions, will develop the synthesis necessary to accelerate discovery. These working groups will work toward specific products, whether they be white papers that guide NC State’s investment in interdisciplinarity or peer-reviewed synthesis papers. Cheng will also work with the Office of University Interdisciplinary Programs and the Office for Faculty Excellence to help create systems to incentivize faculty members’ faculties who conduct interdisciplinary scholarship and to foster the development of the communication and other skills necessary for interdisciplinary collaboration. He will also help launch pilot approaches through which to promote interdisciplinary scholarship to be a part of faculty assessment.

“Ke’s leadership and outstanding service to the university will allow us to continue on a trajectory to become a national model for interdisciplinarity scholarship in higher education,” said Dunn. “I look forward to working with him in advancing the  innovation we undertake in the Office of University Interdisciplinary Programs.”

Cheng joined NC State in August 2013 as a Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster hire in Translational Regenerative Medicine. His core research focuses on the use of patient-derived stem cells to treat disease. His success in this work has depended heavily on his ability to transcend disciplines, borrowing techniques from bioengineering, design and other fields in the service of the well-being of humans and animals.

In addition, Cheng’s curiosity and problem-focused approach has led him to a range of collaborations on other topics, including new adhesives based on the study of gecko feet and a fluid-filled origami heart pouch for delivery of some kinds of cell therapies. As Dunn notes, “It will be exciting to work with Ke to bring his curiosity and interdisciplinarity creativity to his new role and to find ways to reward our faculty for these same attributes.”

Cheng received a bachelor of science in pharmaceutical engineering from Zhejiang University, followed by a Ph.D. in biological engineering from the University of Georgia. Cheng’s research has been summarized in scientific journals, including Lancet, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Science Translational Medicine, Circulation, Circulation Research, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Stem Cells, Biomaterials. Cheng currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Extracellular Vesicle (Elsevier) and the Chair for the NIH Biomaterials and Biointerfaces Study Section.

This article was originally published by NC State’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost News on

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