This month WLCU’s “ Lebanese Heritage Series” would like to profile yet another accomplished, self-made, generous community member.
Moise Khayrallah came to the US in 1983. He left his hometown Ghbaleh – (Ftouh-Kesseruan region) at the age of 24, one week after he wedded Vera Tayeh. He and his wife left a war torn country leaving behind family and friends, to take a leap into an unknown future. If you were in Beirut at the time, you might still remember the sights, the smell and the sound of the war. Beirut airport opening intermittently allowed them to leave Lebanon and landed in RDU not knowing anyone in NC.
Moise received a BA in Psychology from AUB in 1981 and had started graduate studies at AUB also in psychology under a USAID scholarship. He was accepted at UNC-Chapel Hill, continued his PhD studies in Psychology, and graduated in 1993. While completing his studies at UNC, he started working at Burroughs Wellcome in RTP developing psychiatric drugs and loved the applicability of the research skills he had acquired to the field of pharmaceutical development.
He has worked in various pharmaceutical companies but, as most Lebanese, had a bigger vision. In 2002, he started his first consulting company partnering with other startups in the field of cancer research. In 2006, he launched Addrenex Pharmaceuticals to develop a pipeline of drugs that targeted the adrenergic system and sold the company to Shionogi of Japan in 2009. In 2010, he founded Neuronex Inc. and developed a drug for seizure disorder. He sold the company to Acorda Therapeutics of New York in 2012. And in 2011, he cofounded his current company, Aerial BioPharma, which also develops drugs in the neurology space.
In 2010, Moise saw the accomplishments and the contributions of the Lebanese immigrants and with a sense of pride of being Lebanese, he funded the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese American at NC State in order to research and highlight the positive role the Lebanese immigrants have played in NC.
Through a series of meetings, document fine-tuning, and excellent due-diligence, Dr. Akram Khater, featured last in our January 2014-Lebanese Heritage ( http://www.wlcu.org/) , presented a compelling case and the Khayrallah program was born. Dr. Akram Khater provided the framework, organization, and drive to accomplish what the program has accomplished.
Since the inception of the Khayrallah program in 2010, there has been many accomplishments: from the PBS documentary “Cedars in the Pines”, K-12 educational program, hundreds of national lectures and publications on the subject, to the upcoming opening of an unprecedented Lebanese museum exhibit at the NC Museum of History, all give Moise a sense of pride of being Lebanese.
Long term, the goal of the program is to turn it into a permanent center for the study of the worldwide Lebanese diaspora along with an endowed chair so that this type of work can continue in perpetuity. This will be the first center of its kind in the world.
Moise attributes most of the program’s success to “first and foremost Dr. Khater for his drive and can-do attitude. He is the heart and the brains that drove our success. I also want to thank the administration at NC State for giving Dr. Khater the academic support and logistical help to accomplish our goals. Finally, none of this would mean much without the support of our great Lebanese American community and its organizations, like the Triangle Lebanese Association, who provided the encouragement, objects, and topics of our projects. They deserve the best!” http://nclebanese.wordpress.com/tag/akram-khater/ .It is remarkable how the dedication and personal sacrifices of Dr. Khater and Moise inspired a whole community.
Moise and Vera are currently involved with various entrepreneurial and philanthropic causes both in the US and in Lebanon. Their endeavors and their belief in giving back not only help the Lebanese but also in the field of science and research. The most rewarding aspect of his involvement with the program has been the reaction of the Lebanese American community to the documentary. Moise states “when people saw the history of our community displayed so eloquently on screen it was a great source of pride, joy, and re-connection to this shared history. The positive reaction validated my initial feeling that this history is worth researching and highlighting. This program has exceeded my expectations!”
Thirty years ago, a young, newlywed couple, left loved ones behind and ventured into the unknown future together. Today, they are the pillar of our Lebanese community. They continue to share their love, pride, and appreciation to our common denominator, Lebanon, regardless of religion or political views, setting an example for future generations. Indeed a legacy to be proud of!
Read more about The Khayrallah Program and all their events: http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/akhater/lac/index.htm