Regenerative Medicine Visionary Cheng to Receive Endowed Professorship

NC State College of Veterinary Medicine’s Ke Cheng, whose groundbreaking stem cell research has led to promising new ways to repair damaged hearts and lungs, will be named the Randall B. Terry, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Regenerative Medicine.

The endowed professorship is the result of a $1 million donation from the R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation, along with $500,000 from the college’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund. Cheng will formally receive the professorship during a Nov. 4 ceremony at the CVM.

A game-changing scientist behind work both ambitious and practical, Cheng and his BioTherapeutics Lab has led studies pinpointing innovative ways to deliver stem cells to stimulate heart and lung tissue growth, developed synthetic cardiac stem cells and created nanogel capsules to help make sure those stem cells stay put. 

One study discovered that therapeutic stem cells exit the bloodstream in a different way than originally thought. A recent paper outlined the effectiveness of exosomes harvested from human cells to repair sun-damaged skin cells. 

Cheng is also a professor in NC State/UNC-Chapel Hill Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering and an adjunct professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

“Dr. Cheng is an extraordinarily successful researcher, a generous mentor and collaborator and a leader whose rising tide lifts all boats,” wrote Barbara Sherry, the head of the CVM Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, in a letter nominating Cheng for the professorship.

Cheng arrived at the CVM in 2013 as a key Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program recruit to focus on regenerative medicine power’s to drastically improve human and animal health. His work has been supported by the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund, the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

In April, Cheng was inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and has been named a fellow of the American Heart Association. He was named a University Faculty Scholar in 2016.

The R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation is the most generous benefactor of the CVM, offering longtime substantial support for professorships and student scholarships. The Terry Center, the state-of-the-art veterinary hospital on the CVM campus, is the result of a $20 million bequest from the foundation’s namesake, philanthropist Randall B. Terry.