CHAPEL HILL – Former UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp plans to return to his entrepreneurial roots after taking a one-year sabbatical at Washington University in St. Louis, the institution reported Thursday.

Thorp, an active entrepreneur in his long career at UNC, is to take a position in drug discovery and innovation. It’s a newly created job, the university said. He had served as provost at Washington.

“These six years as Washington University provost will always be a highlight of my career,” Thorp said in the announcement. “Chancellor [Andrew] Martin has bold ideas for the future of the university, and I look forward to being part of our continued ascent.”

Thorp joined Washington in 2013.

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He is both an inventor and entrepreneur and also led efforts to encourage entrepreneurship at UNC. His last two years were marred by athletic, academic and administrative scandals. At the time Thorp said he wanted to spend his final months at UNC putting policies and procedures in place so that similar problems don’t recur.

A North Carolina native, Thorp became UNC-CH’s 10th chancellor in 2008. In all, he spent three decades at the university, starting as an undergraduate student who earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry with honors in 1986. He earned a doctorate in chemistry in 1989 at the California Institute of Technology and did postgraduate work at Yale University.

After teaching a year at North Carolina State University, he returned to UNC-CH to teach chemistry in 1993. He became chair of the chemistry department in 2005 and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

Through his research, Thorp developed technology for electronic DNA chips and founded several companies. He raised funds for a science complex that helped boost faculty research productivity and served as director of UNC’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.

Thorp is a cofounder of Viat Pharmaceuticals.