Hickey, a professor in the Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics from 1993 until 2010, returns to the School after a stint at the Research Triangle Institute, where he was program director in inhaled therapeutics at the Center for Aerosol and Nanomaterials Engineering.
Hickey earned his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences from Aston University in Birmingham, U.K. After five years on faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago, he came to the School in 1993. Hickey is the founder of two pharmaceutical companies — Cirrus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Oriel Therapeutics, Inc.
As the director of UNC Catalyst, Hickey said he hopes to work with researchers from the health sciences schools across UNC’s campus to address the unmet needs in rare disease research.
UNC Catalyst is a research group focused on understanding and counteracting rare diseases. It creates high quality research tools to explore disease pathobiology, in order to accelerate the pace of drug discovery and help define options for therapeutic intervention.
“There are very few centers like Catalyst that are solely dedicated to rare diseases, nationally or internationally,” Hickey said. “We benefit from huge numbers of researchers interested in rare diseases at the pharmacy and medical schools at UNC.”
UNC Catalyst collaborates with the Genetic Alliance and the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC-UNC), employing open science principles in order to share knowledge freely and without restriction to other research communities.
Interfacing across the health sciences will help Catalyst continue to advance rare disease research, Hickey said.
“The dynamic university environment at UNC is fueled by our phenomenal students and faculty across multiple disciplines,” Hickey said. “I believe this can be a new and exciting opportunity for Catalyst to promote interactions between scientists, clinicians and patients on the UNC campus and beyond.”