Faculty and Staff

Offenbacher Named W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor

Dr. Steven Offenbacher, chair of the Department of Periodontology, has been named a W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor by the University Board of Trustees to honor his excellence in teaching and research. He will hold this professorship until he retires from UNC.

In the notification letter from Provost Jim Dean to Offenbacher, the provost told Offenbacher that this professorship is “one of the most prestigious and visible honors the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can bestow upon a member of the faculty, and it is a symbol of the value your colleagues have placed on your research and scholarship.”

“I appreciate that being named a W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor is one of the esteemed recognitions for faculty members at UNC,” said Offenbacher. “I’m incredibly humbled to be given such an honor from the University. I am proud to join the ranks of some of the University’s best educators and researchers since the early 1900s, and I’m honored to be among those recognized in this way. But the real credit is deserved by the many faculty, staff and students here at UNC who have supported our research and teaching programs over the years. Without the collective efforts and dedication of those many individuals, we would not have been able to achieve a level of excellence worthy of this award. So I must thank all of those here at the school, including those within the Center for Oral and Systemic disease, who have enabled me to receive such recognition on their behalf.”

Offenbacher joined the department of periodontology at UNC School of Dentistry in 1991 and was appointed the OraPharma Distinguished Professor of Periodontal Medicine in 2003. He also serves as the director of the Center for Oral and Systemic Diseases. Offenbacher earned his D.D.S. at the Medical College of Virginia (MCV), followed by his Ph.D. in biochemistry from MCV. He was awarded his Master of Medical Sciences in oral biology from Harvard Medical School. He completed a three-year program for his post-doctoral fellowship in pharmacology at Forsyth Dental Center in Boston and his certificate in periodontology and oral medicine at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Offenbacher has published more than 250 papers, articles, book chapters and manuscripts. He is past president of the American Association for Dental Research and has given congressional testimony twice in support of oral health research. His research focuses on the following areas: (1) molecular epidemiology investigating the relationship of periodontal disease to premature birth, atherosclerosis, heart disease and diabetes, (2) clinical and translational research in pharmacological treatment of periodontal diseases, (3) periodontal clinical trials to improve cardiovascular and diabetic health and pregnancy outcomes, and (4) genetics and epigenetics of periodontal disease.

Established in 1917 by Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, the Kenan Distinguished Professorships help the University attract and retain top faculty by providing distinguished professors with extra, endowed funding. In 1965, the number of professorships expanded thanks to gifts from the Kenan Trust, established by a behest from William R. Kenan, Jr.

Offenbacher, along with the other new Kenan Distinguished Professorship recipients, will be honored at a celebration on Tuesday, September 3 at the Carolina Inn.