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Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development

Professor Jean M.J. Fréchet

  • Mission and Vision
  • Biography
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Research Interests

​The Office of the SVP RIED oversees two of the central pillars of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology by fostering excellence in research and innovation while contributing to the economic development of Saudi Arabia.
  • In the area of Research, the office develops strategies, initiates and oversees research programs, manages space and resources, and establishes policies to support both fundamental and goal-oriented interdisciplinary research bridging science and engineering.
  • In the area of Innovation and Economic Development, the office oversees the development, management, and commercialization of the University's intellectual property portfolio, establishes a culture and mindset of entrepreneurship, creates and supports new businesses, leads initiatives aimed at supporting joint ventures and collaborations with industry, and manages KAUST's Research and Technology Park. ​

Research Support Offices

Research Operations

Innovation and Economic Development

Research and Technology Park

Professor Jean Fréchet, an accomplished chemist and researcher, is senior vice president for research, innovation, and economic development at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. He assumed his duties in June 2010.

Fréchet joined KAUST after 14 years at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was the Henry Rapoport chair of organic chemistry and professor of chemical engineering. While at Berkeley, he also served as a principal investigator in the Materials Science Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and as the scientific director of the Organic and Macromolecular Facility for the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In his role at KAUST, Fréchet is a leader in developing strategies and managing resources to support interdisciplinary, collaborative research bridging science and engineering. Fréchet is tasked with helping KAUST realize its vision of becoming a globally renowned research university with an entrepreneurial culture through the management of research resources and the facilitation of scientific achievement and technological innovation.

Fréchet oversees the University's Core Laboratories, interdisciplinary Research Centers, and Innovation and Economic Development to ensure that the University's researchers and staff members conduct collaborative research in various areas of science and engineering at the highest scientific standards. He plays a key role in fostering an enabling environment for interdisciplinary education, research and innovation that leverages the theme-focused projects in the Research Centers and the capabilities in the academic divisions' core disciplines of science and engineering. By leading efforts to realize synergies arising from the University's matrix structure, Fréchet develops strategies to place KAUST at the forefront of innovation and enterprise.

A polymer chemist best known for his contributions in a wide range of fields, including modern electronics and biotechnology, Fréchet has authored more than 800 scientific papers with more than 106,000 citations as well as 100 U.S. and international patents. Fréchet developed the chemically amplified photoresists used in the fabrication of microprocessors and memory chips that are ubiquitous in today's consumer goods. Other notable achievements include the development of novel separation media and polymers for therapeutic uses and his long service as an editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.​

Born in France, Fréchet received his first university degree at the Institut de Chimie et Physique Industrielles (now CPE in Lyon, France) before moving to the United States for graduate studies in organic and polymer chemistry at Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He joined the chemistry faculty at the University of Ottawa in Canada in 1973 and remained there until 1987, when he became IBM professor of polymer chemistry at Cornell University in the United States. In 1995, he was named the Peter J. Debye chair of chemistry at Cornell.

His numerous awards and honors include the Japan Prize and multiple recognitions from the American Chemical Society, including the Arthur C. Cope Award, and awards in polymer chemistry and applied polymer science. 

Fréchet is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Science, the U.S. National Academy of Inventors and the Academy of Europe.

​Curriculum Vitae

  • Ph.D., Syracuse University, United States, 1971
  • Ph.D., State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, United States, 1971
  • M.S., Syracuse University, 1969
  • M.S., State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 1969
  • Ingénieur-Chimiste, Institut de Chimie et Physique Industrielles, France, 1967

Professional Profile

  • ​​2017-present: Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
  • 2010-2017: Vice President for Research, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
  • 2011-present: Professor Emeritus in Chemistry and Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2003-2011: Rapoport Chair of Organic Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2004-2011: Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2004-2010: Scientific Director, The Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, United States
  • 2000-2011: Faculty Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • 1996-2011: Professor of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1993-1997: Peter Debye Chair of Chemistry, Cornell University, United States
  • 1987-1997: IBM Professor of Chemistry, Cornell University
  • 1983-1987: Vice Dean, School of Graduate Studies & Research, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • 1979 and 1983: Visiting Scientist, IBM Research Laboratory, United States
  • 1973-1987: Assistant/Associate/Full Professor of Chemistry, University of Ottawa

Scientific and Professional Memberships (current)​

American Chemical Society, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Academia Europaea, Academy of Inventors.
Associate Editor: Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2004-present.​

Past professional activities

Scientific Advisor/Founder: Ardelyx; Dendritic Nanotechnologies; Symyx; Intermolecular; Wildcat; Xenoport; Novomer; Pharmacopia; Aquanano, Xagros, Siros; Optitek; Ilypsa; Argonaut Technologies; Aspira; Galileo Laboratories.
Venture Partner: NGEN Partners, Physic Ventures.
Consultant: Arkema, Unilever, Merck, Akzo Nobel, IBM Corporation, Exxon-Mobil, Xerox, Eastman Kodak, Bayer, BASF, Dupont, ICI, Amoco, Novartis, Rhone Poulenc, Rhodia, Allied Signal, Bausch and Lomb, 3M; Mitsubishi Chemical, Loctite, Kimberly Clark, Pharmacia, Genzyme, Nanosolar.

Awards and Recognition

  • Award in Applied Polymer Science, American Chemical Society, 1996
  • Award in Polymer Chemistry, American Chemical Society, 2000
  • Arthur C. Cope Award, American Chemical Society, 2007
  • Nagoya Gold Medal in Organic Chemistry, 2009
  • Erasmus Medal, 2010
  • Grand Prix de la Maison de la Chimie, 2011
  • Japan Prize, 2013
  • The U.S. National Academy of Inventors, 2015 

Professor Fréchet is the author of more than 800 publications with more than 106,000 citations and 100 patents. His work at the interface of organic, polymer and materials chemistry is in the broad area of nanoscience and nanotechnology and encompasses both academic and entrepreneurial activities.​