Campus News

Vice Chancellor for Research Terry Magnuson reappointed for 5-year term

Under his leadership, Carolina’s research enterprise has grown each year and now exceeds more than $1 billion in research awards and spending annually.

Terry Magnuson
Vice Chancellor for Research Terry Magnuson is reappointed for another five-year term, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin announced in an email to campus. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Vice Chancellor for Research Terry Magnuson is reappointed for another five-year term, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin announced today in an email to campus.

Magnuson is also the Kay M. & Van L. Weatherspoon Eminent Distinguished Professor of Genetics in the UNC School of Medicine and was the founding chair of the genetics department. He is also an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“The review committee was overwhelmingly positive in its recommendation to reappoint Vice Chancellor Magnuson. Terry is a top-notch scientist who possesses strength, compassion and goodness that permeates the research ecosystem at Carolina,” Blouin said in the email. “Notably, under Terry’s leadership, Carolina’s research enterprise has grown each year and now exceeds more than $1 billion in research awards and spending annually.”

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research team supports Carolina’s research faculty, staff, trainees and students through its centralized, campus-wide research administrative offices, overseeing research regulatory compliance and infrastructure. In his role, Magnuson has increased coordination and engagement with institutional, foundational, corporate and government entities. In fiscal year 2020, the OVCR’s Office of Research Development directly supported $51 million in submitted proposals.

To change the way research and discovery happen at Carolina, Magnuson implemented Creativity Hubs, a seed funding initiative that creates evolving virtual research networks, concentrating interdisciplinary talent and resources on bold ideas. These networks are free from typical organizational boundaries and strive to move discoveries and ideas into practice and yield additional funding from new sources. One recent example is READDI, an open-science, nonprofit drug research and development organization that combats virus families that cause the majority of the world’s epidemics and pandemics. READDI is the evolution of Infectious Disease Discovery Program at UNC (ID3@UNC), which was a 2018 Creativity Hubs winning team.

Magnuson worked closely with the College of Arts & Sciences and Innovate Carolina to develop the concept for the Institute for Convergent Science, taking the idea from an innovation framework to an institute that hired its first director in 2020. Convergent science takes a problem-centered approach to research and breaks down academic silos bringing together unlikely collaborators. The resulting research activity benefits society, boosts value to researchers and the University and creates jobs in North Carolina.

During Magnuson’s time as vice chancellor, the OVCR’s Office of Research Communications worked with the College to expand University Research Week into a yearly, pan-campus celebration of Carolina’s research excellence with a primary goal of increasing student participation in research activity. The past two iterations of University Research Week have included more than 40 individual events. In 2019, NASA astronaut and alumna Zena Cardman was a featured presenter, and last year’s celebration included a panel of Carolina coronavirus experts along with emcee, and alumna, Kizzmekia Corbett, who is leading the National Institutes of Health charge for vaccine development.

Magnuson is co-captain for Discover, an important strategic initiative in Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good, the University’s strategic plan. This initiative creates the conditions for discovery by sustaining robust, creative research with scholarly and artistic missions. It also provides infrastructure to enable Carolina scholars and researchers to solve major societal challenges. In 2020, Carolina faculty worked to help solve the challenge of the pandemic by addressing COVID-19-related concerns in North Carolina communities through a humanistic lens; research in biology and disease modeling; and the development of therapies and testing in clinical trials. The productivity of Carolina researchers in COVID-19 scholarship is reflected in our ranking last year as the top cited university in the United States for coronavirus research by Microsoft Academic.

Magnuson is committed to fostering an inclusive, equitable research community and broadening participation of the research workforce. This commitment inspired the recently launched Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Research certificate program, offered by the Odum Institute, to foster a new standard of inclusion, sensitivity and intentionality in the University’s research community. Additionally, the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity is housed in the OVCR under the direction of Sibby Anderson-Thompkins, special adviser to the chancellor and provost for equity and inclusion and interim chief diversity officer. This program develops scholars from under-represented groups for possible tenure track appointments at Carolina or other research universities. The program has been consistently cited as a best practice in faculty diversity recruitment, has enjoyed strong institutional support, involvement of the program alumni and has successfully placed 100% of its fellows into tenure-track positions.

Blouin thanked the review committee chaired by Shelton Earp, Lineberger Distinguished Professor of pharmacology in the School of Medicine and director of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the members listed below for their time and thoughtful approach to this review

  • Chris Clemens, senior associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Arts & Sciences;
  • Judith Cone, vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and business development;
  • Giselle Corbie-Smith, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Social Medicine, director of the Center for Health Equity Research and professor of internal medicine in the School of Medicine;
  • Alexander Tropsha, associate dean, pharmacoinformatics and K.H. Lee Distinguished Professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy;
  • Richard Watkins, director of Chancellor’s Science Scholars; and
  • Sheryl Zimmerman, University Kenan Distinguished Professor, co-director of Program on Aging, Disability and Long-Term Care at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and director of aging research at the School of Social Work

“Terry has brought Carolina to the forefront as a leading global, public research university,” Blouin said. “He is a widely respected scholar and administrator deeply engaged in service to the scientific community at the local, national and international level, and I am delighted that he will continue to head the research enterprise.”