Appointments, Endodontics, Faculty and Staff

Maixner Awarded Prestigious University Professorship

Dr. William Maixner, a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member since 1985, has been named a Mary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham Distinguished Professor at the University.

He and the other new recipients of Kenan and W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professorships were honored Sept. 22 at a Carolina Inn reception hosted by the Office of the Provost.

“Dr. Maixner is always the first to give credit to his colleagues for their accomplishments. It is very fitting that the University would honor him for his own outstanding achievements,” said School of Dentistry Dean John N. Williams. “He is calm and kind to colleagues. His demeanor and his track record of research excellence offer graduate students and younger faculty a wonderful example of how directly our attention to our humanity informs discoveries focused on improving human life.”

Maixner directs the Center for Neurosensory Disorders, based in the School of Dentistry. He is a full professor in the School of Dentistry’s Department of Endodontics, as well as the School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and the Curriculum in Neurobiology.

He served as the School of Dentistry’s associate dean for academic affairs from 1999 to 2005.

Maixner’s internationally recognized research centers on environmental and genetic factors affecting the development and treatment of pain. He has more than 120 research publications and has served in leadership roles within leading research journals.

“Dr. Maixner has the current distinction of having the most external (NIH) funding of any researcher in the UNC School of Dentistry,” wrote Dr. Eric M. Rivera, chairman of the Department of Endodontics, in his nomination letter, adding that “… it is clear that he has an outstanding record of distinction in the dental school, university, nationally and internationally. His impact and effective contributions have been and will continue for some time to be far-reaching and sustained.”

Maixner’s leadership was instrumental in one of the largest grants in the University’s history: the OPPERA, or Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment, study. Announced in 2005, this $19 million, seven-year cooperative initiative with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research focuses on temporomandibular joint disorder and related conditions and involves collaboration within the University and beyond.

Colleagues within the Center for Neurosensory Disorders also praised Maixner’s mentorship abilities in their nomination letter.

“In addition to his heavy lecture and graduate course load, Dr. Maixner serves as a formal or informal mentor to basic scientists and clinician researchers across UNC,” wrote Drs. Luda Diatchenko, Andrea Neely, Richard Gracely and Samuel McLean.

“Through his indefatigable energy, perpetual optimism and warm supportive personality, Dr. Maixner creates an environment that stimulates outstanding personal and professional achievement.”

Created in 1917 through the bequest of Mary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham, the Kenan Professorships were among the University’s earliest endowments. She created these professorships in honor of her father, Thomas S. Kenan, and uncle, James Graham Kenan. Her bequest was one of the largest gifts made to a state university at the time.

  • The University Gazette contributed to this story