Oblinger brings to the DHMRI more than 25 years of university experience that includes work in food science and agriculture, as well as a series of administrative posts at the university. He resigned as NCSU’s chancellor last year and returned to teaching as a professor in the university’s Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences.
Oblinger succeeds former DHMRI President Michael Luther, who stepped down in June but remains at DHMRI in a business development role. Luther, a pharma industry veteran who had worked at Merck (NYSE:MRK) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), held the DHMRI’s top post for two years.
The DHMRI was founded by businessman David H. Murdock, former executive and owner of the Dole Food Company. The institute sits on the North Carolina Research Campus, a 350-acre campus built on the former Cannon Mills site, which later became part of Pillowtex. Pillowtex filed for bankruptcy in 2003 and closed the mills. Murdock, who has invested more than $620 million into the research campus, planned for the site to become a new source of biotechnology research and economic development for the former North Carolina mill town of Kannappolis.
Eight North Carolina universities, including NCSU, maintain a presence on the North Carolina Research Campus. The campus also has several private tenants, such as laboratory and diagnostics firm LabCorp (NYSE:LH), whose headquarters is in Burlington, North Carolina, as well as smaller life sciences startups. Oblinger is no stranger to DHMRI and has served as a faculty member for NCSU’s Plants for Human Health Institute at the Kannappolis campus.
Steven Leath, vice president for research of the University of North Carolina System and a DHMRI board member, said in a statement that Oblinger’s understanding of science and experience building partnerships in the science world will help DHMRI build bridges with other entities. Oblinger’s focus will be to bring more public and private partnerships to DHMRI and the North Carolina Research Campus.