EII inaugural funding chartThe Eshelman Institute for Innovation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill awarded nearly $9.4 million in its inaugural round of funding for innovative ideas submitted by faculty and staff at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

The institute was created by a $100 million gift from alumnus, philanthropist and pharmaceutical executive Fred Eshelman, Pharm.D., to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in December 2014. The institute aims to inspire a culture of innovation where imagination and creative solutions accelerate change in education, research and health care.

“We were extremely pleased to see so many members of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy rise to Dr. Eshelman’s challenge and propose a wide range of exciting and interesting ideas,” said Robert Blouin, Pharm.D., dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and director of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation. “The innovative thinking evident in the more than four dozen proposals we evaluated was very impressive, and we are confident that Dr. Eshelman’s investment will lead to creative solutions that address problems in education, research and health care throughout the state of North Carolina and society as a whole.”

Faculty and staff at the pharmacy school submitted 53 proposals. The institute approved 24 projects across four funding tiers that range from up to $50,000 for ideas that are raw, bold and novel to as much as $2 million for more developed, high impact programmatic proposals.

“This unique mechanism of funding support changes my mindset and approach of developing research,” said Assistant Professor Sam Lai, Ph.D., who received funding for three proposals at tier one, two and three levels. “Instead of focusing on what might be most fundable by federal agencies, I am empowered to go after what I believe to be the most innovative and most impactful. I am now limited by only my imagination and how well I can execute the new idea. As a faculty member, that’s really all I can ask for.”

A complete list of funded projects with descriptions can be found at unceii.org.

The Eshelman institute provides a mechanism for faculty, staff and students at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy to seek funding for bold, transformative ideas and also provides opportunities to educate and train students and postdoctoral fellows; foster collaboration, creativity and innovation; and stimulate commercialization of intellectual property and entrepreneurial development.

David Lawrence, Ph.D., sought tier-three funding to support a collaboration with another scientist in the School. Lawrence is a Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor and chair of the School’s Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry.

“The institute is supporting a research effort that seeks to unite two cutting-edge technologies to treat a disease that is currently a death sentence: glioblastoma,” he said. “With institute funding, my lab will work with Shawn Hingtgen’s lab to construct the cellular equivalents of cyborgs, which are designed to seek out and terminate glioblastoma cancer cells.”

The submission deadline for the next round of proposals is February 1.

Eshelman Institute Inaugural Funded Proposals

Tier 1: Up to a total of $50,000

  • “Creating the First Noninvasive Wearable Technology to Continuously Monitor and Improve Patient Medication Adherence”
    Delesha Carpenter, Ph.D., Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy
  • “Large-Scale Polypharmacology Modeling Using Deep Learning”
    Alexander Golbraikh, Ph.D., Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
  • “Cytotoxic Stem Cell Therapy for Pediatric Brain Cancer”
    Shawn Hingtgen, Ph.D., Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics
  • “Profiling Cellular Phosphoinositide Metabolism for Disease Diagnosis”
    Weigang Huang, Ph.D., Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
  • “Optogenetics, Cytoskeletal Dysregulation, and Disease”
    Robert Hughes, Ph.D., Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
  • “Carolina Nanoformulation Workshop”
    Alexander Kabanov, Ph.D., Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics
  • “RECOPE: Reverse Conceptual Product Engineering”
    Alexander Kabanov, Ph.D., Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics/Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery
  • “Molecular Simulations of Ultra-Large Biological Systems”
    Dmitri Kireev, Ph.D., Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery
  • “Shoebox-Sized Plasmapheresis Machine for Cheap & Rapid Generation of Convalescent Serum in Africa”
    Samuel Lai, Ph.D., Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics
  • “Decipher a Highly Specific Biomarker for Targeted Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer”
    Rihe Liu, Ph.D., Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
  • “Solving the Mystery of Highly Variable Drug Disposition in Pregnant Women: Are Unique Hepatic Drug Metabolizing Enzymes Activated During Pregnancy?”
    Craig Lee, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics
  • “P-Glycoprotein Targeted Antibody Conjugates for Combating Chemoresistant Tumors”
    Xin Ming, Ph.D., Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics
  • “Enhancing Tumor Delivery of Nanoparticle Anticancer Agents Using Microbeam Radiation Therapy”
    Bill Zamboni, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics

Tier 2: Up to a total of $200,000

  • ”Controlling the Mucus That Kills Pulmonary Patients”
    Emily Hull-Ryde, Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry/Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery
  • ”Carolina E(I) Lab: A Multidisciplinary, Entrepreneurial Experience in Transforming Bold Ideas Into Successful Ventures”
    Samuel Lai, Ph.D., Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics
  • “Transforming Data into Knowledge: Fostering Institutional Effectiveness through Real-Time Analytics”
    Jacqui McLaughlin, Ph.D., M.S., Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education

Tier 3: Up to a total of $750,000

  • “Transdifferentiation: A Novel Approach to Personalized Cancer Therapy”
    Shawn Hingtgen, Ph.D., Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics
  • “Priming the Liver to Resist Cancer Metastasis”
    Leaf Huang, Ph.D., Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics
  • “Engineered Antibodies With Carefully Tuned Mucin-Affinity for Enhanced Mucosal Protection”
    Samuel Lai, Ph.D., Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics
  • “Light-Triggered Launching of Anti-Glioblastoma Therapeutics from Cellular Silos”
    David Lawrence, Ph.D., Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
  • “Developing Carbohydrate-Based Medicines”
    Jian Liu, Ph.D., Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
  • “Innovations in Practice Transformation: Advancing Medication Optimization in Primary Care”
    Mary McClurg, Pharm.D., M.H.S., Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education

Tier 4: Up to a total of $2 million

  • “Center for Innovation in Pharmacy Simulation (CIPS)”
    Alexander Tropsha, Ph.D., Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
  • “The SCG-UNC: A Center for Open and Collaborative Target Discovery”
    Tim Willson, Ph.D., Structural Genomics Consortium – UNC
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