2017

Leadership

Sam Lai, Ph.D.

Associate Professor


Jimmy Xu

Pharm.D. Candidate
YIP Coordinator


Bill Zamboni, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics

Projects

Stage 1: Discovery

Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry

Our work focuses on discovering new therapeutic agents and targets. Thousands of compounds researched at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy have the potential for therapeutic applications impacting many disease targets, such as enzymes, specific drug receptors, and even the genome.


Faculty member:
Jeff Aube, Ph.D

Intern: 
Dalal Azzam

High School: 
Green Hope High School

Lab Mentor:
Andrew Perkowski

Clinical Mentors:
Harika Kunchala and Bernadette Gublo

The development of new drugs for therapy or, for that matter, small molecules that can be used as probes of biological function, requires access to a versatile and effective toolbox of chemical reactions. The Aube laboratory is interested in both the development of new chemical reactions for synthetic medicinal chemistry as well as the specific applications of this chemistry toward directed biological problems. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Aube to develop a research project in the search for agents active against non-replicating Mycobacterium tuberculosis, inhibitors of RNA–protein interactions as potential anticancer agents, or the study of novel opioids capable of functional selectivity.


Faculty member:
Rihe Liu, Ph.D

Intern: 
Clara To

High School: 
East Chapel Hill High School

jingjing_li

Lab Mentor:
JingJing Li

Clinical Mentor:
Trent Martin

The Rihe Liu group’s research interests include the systematic development of clinically amenable targeting ligands that tightly and highly specifically bind to biomarkers on the surface of cancer cells from protein domain libraries and nuclease-resistant nucleic acid libraries with unusually high diversity; the identification of natural and synthetic proteins with desired biological functions and elucidation of the related proteinprotein, enzyme-substrate, and drug-target interaction networks at a proteome-wide scale using combinatorial biochemistry and chemical biology approaches. The resulting targeting ligands are further engineered to have desired multispecificity and avidity and applied in translational research using xenograft, orthotopic, and patient-derived animal models. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Liu to develop novel cancer biomarker-binding theranostic molecules that are based on the single domain antibodies or their mimics with human origins using sophisticated protein display technologies.


Faculty member:
Alex Tropsha, Ph.D

Intern: 
Michael McGirt

High School: 
Hillside High School

Lab Mentor:
Eugene Muratov

Clinical Mentor:
Darryl Lewis

Protein kinases are enzymes that regulate cellular pathways involved in signal transduction. Deregulation of kinase activity can lead to aberrations in cell growth, motility, and death, thereby causing diseases such as cancer. Drugs that inhibit deregulated kinases, therefore, are sought after as treatments for various diseases. Using an approach called Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship (QSAR) modeling, a statistical relationship between the chemical structure of compounds and their associated kinase inhibition can be derived computationally. These QSAR models can then be used to prioritize new hits (compounds) with desired kinase inhibition profiles. The most promising computational hits will be tested and confirmed experimentally in Structural Genomics Consortium. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Trophsa to work on QSAR modeling of a particular kinase in the hopes of identifying an inhibitor and potential drug candidate.


Faculty member:
Amber Frick, Ph.D

Intern: 
Daniel Mangum

High School: 
Trinity School of Durham & Chapel Hill

Lab Mentor:
Jimmy Xu

Clinical Mentor:
Bernadette Gublo

The focus of this research involves educational innovations and assessment in pharmacogenomics among healthcare students, clinicians, and members of the public. All projects involve data/desk-based work. Pharmacogenomics has transitioned to clinical implementation. However, resistance by clinicians has been met, partly due to deficiencies in education. We are using innovative methods, including genotyping and educational technology, to reach and educate future healthcare providers in the classroom, practicing clinicians at continuing education events, and the public at local pharmacies. Outcomes measured from these projects include knowledge gained, personal reflections and attitudes, and the feasibility of various pharmacogenomics educational initiatives. This series of projects build upon previously conducted pharmacogenomics educational investigations.


Faculty member:
Kenneth Pearce, Pharm.D, Ph.D

Intern: 
Elijah Whitfield

High School: 
First Flight High School

Lab Mentor:
Justin Rectenwald

Clinical Mentor:
Darryl Lewis

The dynamic control of chromatin architecture is an essential process for controlling gene expression. The addition, recognition, and removal of post-translational modifications (PTMs) of histone proteins by various enzymes and binding proteins regulate this process. One of these recognition events is binding of methylated lysine residues on histone tails by methyl-lysine (Kme) binding proteins. Histone Kme binding by these reader proteins has been shown to play a fundamental role in the control of DNA integrity, gene expression, and certain disease states such as cancer. An essential activity in the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery is the development of potent and specific chemical probes for Kme reader proteins. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Pearce to characterize chemical probes with biochemical, biophysical, and cellular assays.


robert mcginty

Faculty member:
Robert McGinty, M.D, Ph.D

Intern: 
Erin Blanding

High School: 
Sun Valley High School

Lab Mentor:
Cathy Anderson

Clinical Mentors:
Jessica Stickel, Amanda Searls

Despite every cell in the human body having a nearly identical genetic sequence, divergent patterns of gene expression lead to the development of diverse cell types and functions. These patterns are established through epigenetic changes to the composition and structure of chromatin, the physiologic state of the genome. By displaying diverse combinations of post-translational modifications, chromatin serves as an active signaling hub in the regulation of gene expression and when misregulated is correlated with many human diseases, especially cancer. The McGinty Laboratory studies mechanisms governing epigenetic signaling through visualization at atomic resolution. The intern will collaborate with Dr. McGinty on research projects that include cloning, purification, biochemistry, and structural biology of important chromatin regulators.


Faculty member:
Jian Liu, Ph.D

Intern: 
Hannah Myatt

High School: 
Home Schooled

Lab Mentor:
Katelyn Arnold

Clinical Mentors:
Jessica Stickel, Amanda Searls

Research in the Jian Liu group is focused on glycobiology and glycobiochemistry, an emerging field that emphasizes the biological functions of carbohydrates. The group is particularly interested in understanding the biosynthetic mechanism of sulfated polysaccharides known as heparan sulfate and heparin. Heparan sulfate is found on the cell surface and in the extracellular matrix in large quantities. Heparan sulfate is involved in a wide range of biological functions, including regulating blood coagulation, controlling embryonic development, and resisting viral infections. Heparin, a polysaccharide with a similar structure to heparan sulfate, is a widely used anticoagulant drug isolated from animal sources. Current methods for heparin synthesis leave the supply chain vulnerable to contamination. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Liu to develop a chemoenzymatic method to significantly simplify the preparation of heparin and ultra-low molecular weight heparin. This approach has great potential to synthesize a cheaper, cleaner, and safer heparin drug.


Faculty member:
Qisheng Zhang, Ph.D

Intern: 
Tyler Deegan

High School: 
Woods Charter School

Lab Mentor:
Weigang Huang

Clinical Mentor:
Trent Martin

The Zhang laboratory studies lipid signaling pathways that are involved in development and diseases by developing novel chemical probes and technologies. As key components of cellular membranes, lipids also serve as signaling molecules and modify functions of proteins through either covalent or non-covalent interactions. Aberrant regulation of lipid signaling has been correlated with various diseases including cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. Consequently, many lipid-related proteins or processes have been used as therapeutic targets. However, lipids are dynamically metabolized and transported, making it difficult to illustrate the roles of lipids in development and diseases with limited availability of probes and technologies for lipid studies. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Zhang to develop a probe to monitor and regulate known lipid signaling pathways and technology development to identify unknown unknown lipid species.


Stage 2: Delivery

Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics

We are engaged in education and research in targeted drug delivery that will ensure optimal therapeutic efficacy of pharmacologically and immunologically active agents. It is a multidisciplinary endeavor requiring knowledge in basic pharmaceutics, chemistry, biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, drug metabolism, and pharmaceutical analysis.


Faculty member:
Sam Lai, Ph.D

Interns: 
Alexander DeWalle, Raleigh Charter High School

Olivia Osborne, Woods Charter School

Lab Mentors:
Morgan McSweeney
Jasmine Edelstein

Clinical Mentor:
Stephen McMillan

Bacteriophages are highly abundant bacterial viruses, nature’s vehicle for delivery of genetic materials into bacteria. Nearly all bacteriophage engineering efforts to date have focused on lytic phages, in particular, the use of lytic phages to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In contrast, far fewer studies investigate the use of so-called temperate phages, which can integrate their genetic material into the host bacterial genome without killing the bacteria. Through customization of the integrated genetic material, lysogenic bacteriophage can be engineered to precisely insert or silence specific genetic elements in the host. The Lai Lab is developing temperate phages that can induce vaginal commensal bacteria (i.e. bacteria that are pre-existing in the vagina) to produce antiviral peptides against HIV, as a strategy for blocking vaginal HIV transmission. Interns will collaborate with Dr. Lai to engineer bacteriophages through DNA cloning and bacteria cultures as well as development of antiviral peptide detection assays.


Faculty member:
Rahima Benhabbour, Ph.D

Interns: 
Alexandra Simpson

High School: 
Hillside High School

Lab Mentor:
Roopali Shrivastava

Clinical Mentor:
Stephen McMillan

HIV is the sixth leading cause of death in the world and the third leading cause of death as a communicable disease. Despite decades of research, globally ~37 million people are living with HIV and ~2.0 million people were newly infected with the virus in 2014. Oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with Truvada is an effective prevention intervention for HIV acquisition, in particular when adherence is high. However, poor adherence renders this therapy ineffective. Innovations recently introduced into the field of systemic PrEP are long-acting (LA) formulations of antiretrovirals (ARVs) that stably release drugs over many weeks as nano-formulations and have activity in animal models of prevention. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Benhabbour to develop an injectable polymer-based delivery system for LA PrEP that offers durable and sustained protection from HIV transmission, high efficacy of HIV inhibition, increased user compliance, and the ability to be removed in case of unanticipated adverse events or when considering discontinuation from the LA PrEP.


Shawn Hingtgen, Ph.D.

Faculty member:
Shawn Hingtgen, Ph.D

Interns: 
Michael Marand

High School: 
Panther Creek High School

Lab Mentor:
Vivian Lettry

Clinical Mentors:
Madi Jones, Emily Wings

Engineered tumor-homing neural stem cells (tNSCs) are a promising therapy for the highly aggressive brain cancer Glioblastoma (GBM). The unique tumor-homing capacity of tNSCs allows the cells to seek out and deliver anti-cancer gene products directly into local and invasive GBM foci. Hingtgen’s lab recently discovered that polymeric scaffolds significantly increase the transplant and survival of therapeutic stem cells in the GBM resection cavity. Initial versions of the scaffold were modified to remain permissive to stem cell tumoritropic homing and allow robust drug release to dramatically suppress GBM recurrence. Yet, limitations to scaffold design are likely to prevent the effective application of scaffold/tNSC therapy in a clinical setting. Additionally, the matrix properties that regulate tNSC therapy are unknown. Working as part of a diverse team comprised of engineers and biologists, the intern will develop new scaffold materials with the goal of creating the optimal matrix for tNSC therapy.


Stage 3: Optimization

Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics

We work to optimize drug therapy through the generation, integration, and translation of scientific information between the bench and the bedside, the patient and the population. We advance clinical practice through innovative translational research and through the education and training of clinical scientists, future pharmacists and current practitioners.


Faculty member:
Yanguang Cao, Ph.D

Intern: 
Malaika Kimmons

High School:
Apex Friendship High School

Lab Mentor:
Zoey Tang

Clinical Mentor:
Darryl Lewis

The Cao group is interested in developing system pharmacology platforms (models) integrating pharmacokinetic (PK) /pharmacodynamics (PD) to facilitate drug development and optimize therapeutics for cancers and autoimmune diseases. The group specifically works on targeted therapy, including monoclonal antibody, cell-based therapy, and nanoparticle-based therapeutics. In their approaches, they integrate knowledge of drug PK and tissue/target exposure, kinetics of target-drug interactions, PD, tumor physiology, immune functions, and immune dynamics to understand treatment failure/resistance and develop dose/dosing optimization and drug combinations. In studies, the group has employed intravital imaging techniques to track therapeutic modalities, lymphocytes migration/trafficking, and biological biomarkers to support model development. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Cao to develop the quantitative platforms that will be eventually applied to optimize current therapy and support effective drug development strategies.


Faculty member:
Tim Wiltshire, Ph.D

Intern: 
Coleman Mitchell

High School:
Cary Academy

Lab Mentor:
Olivia Dong

Clinical Mentors:
Harika Kunchala, Amanda Searls

Determining the right dose of a drug, or the right drug, for a patient, based on their genetic information is now becoming part of what is termed Precision Medicine, or Personalized Medicine. The Wiltshire lab has developed a test, called PGx, that is used to determine the genetic information for 18 genes that are important pharmacogenes; that is they will provide the genetic information associated with over 100 prescribed drugs. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Wiltshire to explore the utilization of accurate, fast, and cost-effective genetic testing, to tailor the best therapy for each patient.


Faculty member:
Kim Brouwer, Ph.D

Intern: 
Zoe Miller

High School:
Chapel Hill High School

Lab Mentor:
Jacqueline Bezencon

Clinical Mentor:
Trent Martin

The liver plays a vital role in the metabolism and elimination of many chemicals, including drugs and toxins, as well as naturally occurring compounds in the body, such as bile acids. The main research focus of the Brouwer lab is to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for altered transport protein function in the liver. These studies will provide new mechanistic information and predictive tools to address how disease, genetic variation, and drugs can cause changes that impact the handling of medications by the liver. Interns will collaborate with Dr. Brouwer to develop transport experiments with cells overexpressing specific drug transport proteins, cloning, staining, and analysis of drug interactions. This research will contribute to timely, more cost-effective development of safer medications with improved therapeutic outcomes.


Faculty member:
Bill Zamboni, Pharm.D, Ph.D

Interns: 
Megan Kanaby, Cardinal Gibbons High School

Sara Eve Northwoods High School

Lab Mentors:
John Kagel, Allison Schorzman

Clinical Mentors:
Madi Jones, Emily Wings

Zamboni’s laboratory focuses on the application of pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and pharmacogenetic principles in the optimization of the chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer. Information obtained from preclinical and clinical translational studies can significantly add to the understanding of the pharmacology of anticancer agents; permit individualization of chemotherapeutic treatment based on pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and pharmacogenetic principles; and allow for the rational design of therapeutic regimens. The second focus of his research is on the developments of nanosomal and nanoparticle anticancer agents and evaluating the relationship between the disposition f the s agents and the reticuloendothelial system. As part of these studies, he has used microdialysis to evaluate the tumor extracellular fluid disposition of anticancer agents and factors affecting the delivery and removal of anticancer agents. He has also developed methods and technologies to differentiate between the inactive-encapsulate and active-release forms of the drugs and is evaluating potential phenotypic probes from the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic disposition of nanosomal and nanoparticles. The clinical relevance of studies is underscored by the need to treat solid tumors with anticancer agents that have a high tumor delivery of liposomal and nanoparticle agents and generate administration schedules to enhance selective tumor uptake.


Faculty member:
Dhiren Thakker, Ph.D

Intern: 
Ryan Kemper

High School:
Green Hope High School

Lab Mentors:
Aruljothi Muralidharan, Christine Lee

Clinical Mentor:
Stephen McMillan

A major research focus of the Thakker Lab is to develop experimental approaches and models to predict safe and effective doses of medicines for different pediatric populations. As is done for the adult population, safety and efficacy of medicines cannot be evaluated via clinical studies in children. Hence, doses for medicines given to children are often extrapolated (based on weight and body surface area differences) from the doses administered to the adult population. This assumes that children are physiologically similar to the adults, which is not a valid assumption. In fact, from the time of birth through age 18 (adult age) the expression of drug metabolizing enzymes, transporters, receptors, etc. undergoes significant changes in different age groups (e.g. Newborn, ages 2 through 10, ages 11 through 18). Hence, there are several projects in the Thakker Lab to investigate comparative disposition of drugs used in pediatric populations in children and adults, and to develop physiologically based pharmacokinetic models that account for these differences and predict safe and effective doses in children based on clinically established safe/effective doses in adults. The intern who joins the Thakker Lab will have an opportunity to work on one of these projects under the supervision of senior graduate students who are pursuing this research. The intern will learn various cellular, molecular biology, and analytical techniques and will learn the overall context of how this research can benefit pediatric patients.


Stage 4: Practice

Practice Advancement and Clinical Education

We support and advance the practice of pharmacy by providing innovative education and training experiences for pharmacists, both present and future, demonstrating professional leadership, modeling cutting-edge practice and engaging in practiced-based scholarship.


Faculty member:
Jerry Heneghan, MBA

Intern: 
Paul South

High School:
Panther Creek High School

Lab Mentor:
Justin Martin

Clinical Mentor:
Jimmy Xu

The UNC Center for Innovation in Pharmacy Simulation (CIPS) advances professional excellence and patient safety through the research, development, validation, and integration of emerging technologies into the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy curriculum. The team specializes in providing research and development capabilities for faculty, staff, and collaborators interested in applying new technologies to improve teaching and learning. CIPS stays on the forefront of current educational technologies and teaching modalities, including researching and developing: simulations, educational games, ebooks, medical animations, illustrations, mobile applications, interactive web content, multimedia, 360 video capture, virtual, augmented, mixed realities, and more. The intern will collaborate with the development team to conduct software quality assurance testing and reporting.


Faculty member:
Robert Hubal, Ph.D

Intern: 
Lucy Rexrode

High School:
Chapel Hill High School

Lab Mentor:
Justin Martin

Clinical Mentor:
Jimmy Xu

This research project will support the Carolina virtual patient initiative. The virtual patient is being developed to provide immersive, varied educational experiences to students in healthcare professions (medicine, nursing, pharmacy) to increase their confidence and competence, better preparing them for actual patient engagement. The virtual patient has many components, including one that drives its physiology, another that monitors social cues and controls emotional responses, and another that manages the reasoning and decision making behind the patient’s actions. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Hubal to summarize and translate literature, observational research, and clinical encounters into detailed rules for the virtual patient.


Faculty member:
Jon Easter

Intern: 
William Jones

High School:
Charles B. Aycock High School

Lab Mentor:
Tashani J. Gaskins

Clinical Mentor:
Jimmy Xu

U.S. health-care is in need of improvement to reduce overall cost, ensure optimal patient care and deliver value within the system. There is not one simple solution to provide high-value, better clinical services, and effective therapies to improve the health-care system. The Center for Medication Optimization through Practice and Policy (CMOPP) aims to create and disseminate value-based care delivery, payment models, and medication optimization through collaborative real-world research and evidence. The intern will collaborate with CMOPP and faculty members at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy (Asheville campus) to develop a project that will improve healthcare access in rural communities.


Stage 5: Assessment

Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy

We support and advance the practice of pharmacy by providing innovative education and training experiences for pharmacists, both present and future, demonstrating professional leadership, modeling cutting-edge practice and engaging in practiced-based scholarship.


Faculty member:
Gang Fang, Pharm.D, Ph.D

Intern: 
Emily Spero

High School:
North Carolina School of Science & Math

Lab Mentor:
N/A

Clinical Mentors:
Jessica Stickel, Emma Feder

The U.S. is facing great challenges in sustaining its 3 trillion-dollar-cost health-care system, which ranked the highest in spending among all the developed countries, and with its continued annual increases in costs yet unclear improvements in care outcomes. Dr. Fang’s research focuses on improving the efficiency of health care to refine the quality of care and to reduce waste. The intern will collaborate with Dr. Fang with assessing geospatial access to pharmacists, primary care physicians, and other healthcare providers, the intensity of healthcare market competition, and characterization of pharmacies based on their services.


Faculty member:
Delesha Carpenter, Ph.D, MSPH

Intern: 
Noah Ross

High School:
Carrboro High School

Lab Mentor:
Courtney Roberts

Clinical Mentors:
Madi Jones, Emma Feder

Medications are effective in controlling chronic diseases only when patients use them properly. Dr. Carpenter’s research focuses on how interpersonal influences affect proper self-management of chronic illnesses. The Carpenter lab recently surveyed a cohort of school nurses in North and South Carolina to determine the prevalence and impact of opiate abuse in their local communities. To promote public awareness, the intern will collaborate with Dr. Carpenter and her project manager, Courtney Roberts, to develop a series of educational videos designed to educate elementary, middle, and high school students about the appropriate use of opioids.


2016

Leadership

Hiral Jivanji

Pharm.D. Candidate


Jesse Martin

Pharm.D. Candidate


Stephen McMillan

Pharm.D. Candidate


Whitney Schlick

Pharm.D. Candidate


Frank-Tillman
Frank Tillman

Pharm.D. Candidate


Roman Timoshchenko

Pharm.D. Candidate


Jimmy Xu

Pharm.D. Candidate
YIP Coordinator


Bill Zamboni, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics

Projects

Preceptor:
Kristy Ainslie
ainsliek_jun15-directory

Intern: 
William Mangum
William-Mangum
High School: 
Northern High School

Clinical Mentor:
Frank Tillman
Frank-Tillman

To understand differences in drug and protein release from subunit vaccine formulations, we would like to study the in vitro dissolution of these particles, as well as potential kinetics of in vitro activation in cell culture. This project will require the student to develop skills in polymer synthesis, generation of nano/microparticles, in vitro biochemical assays and perhaps mammalian cell culture.

Preceptor:
Elena Batrakova
Elena-Batrakova-400x400

Intern:
Lena Cohen
Lena-Cohen
High School:
Chapel Hill High School

Clinical Mentor:
Hiral Jivanji
Genetically modified white blood cells called macrophages will be used to produce glial cell–derived neurotrophic factor, or GDNF, and deliver it to the brain via cell-mediated delivery to treat Parkinson’s disease. In addition to delivering GDNF, the engineered macrophages can “teach” neurons to make the protein for themselves by delivering both the tools and the instructions needed: DNA, messenger RNA and transcription factor. By teaching immune system cells to make this protective protein, we harness the natural systems of the body to combat degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease.

Preceptor:
Albert Bowers
Albert-Bowers

Intern:
Corbin Bryan
Corbin-Bryan
High School:
Northern High School

Clinical Mentor:
Jesse Martin

Laboratory Mentor:
Jon Bogart

Whole genome sequencing has revolutionized the ways that scientists discover new drugs. Our lab is using computational methods to mine genome data from bacteria and identify new compounds made by those bacteria that could serve as the next wave of antibiotics in the clinic. We then work to isolate, test, and genetically manipulate compounds of interest to improve their drug-like properties. Students working on this project will have the chance to learn a variety of cutting edge scientific techniques, including bioinformatics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and assay development.

Preceptor:
Stephen Frye
svfrye

Intern:
Meenakshi Immaneni
Lakshmi-Immaneni
High School:
STEM Early College at NC A&T

Clinical Mentor:
Frank Tillman
Frank-Tillman

Laboratory Mentor:
Kenneth Pearce

The dynamic control of chromatin architecture is a key process for controlling gene expression. The addition, recognition, and removal of post-translational modifications (PTMs) on histone proteins by various enzymes and binding proteins regulates this process. One of these recognition events is binding of methylated lysine residues on histone tails by methyl-lysine (Kme) binding proteins. Histone Kme binding has been shown to play a fundamental role in control of DNA integrity, gene expression, and concomitantly, certain disease states such as cancer. We are investigating protein 53BP1, a DNA damage response protein that is recruited to sites of double-strand breaks utilizing its Kme reading domain. Recruitment of 53BP1 can lead to cell cycle arrest and DNA damage repair. We have an ongoing effort to discover and characterize inhibitors that block the methyl-lysine (Kme) reading function of 53BP1.

Preceptor:
Nate Hathaway
natehat_jun15-directory

Intern:
Benjamin Wu
Benjamin-Wu
High School:
Trinity

Clinical Mentor:
Whitney Schlick

Laboratory Mentor:
Kathryn Headley
Kathryn-Headley400x400

Mammalian stem cells have the remarkable capability to differentiate into any of the many specialized tissue types in the human body. The plastic nature of stem cells have led to their use in a multitude of cutting-edge treatments – including heart disease, tissue repair, and cancer therapies. These treatments are typically extremely effective, however, there are notable costs for obtaining and employing stem cell treatments for donor and recipient. Namely, painful stem-cell harvesting surgeries and the potential for tissue rejection pose as barriers for the application of stem cell therapies. Excitingly, in 2006, the Yamanaka group discovered that adding four transcription factors (Sox2, Klf, Myc-C, and Oct3/Oct4) to somatic cells could induce pluripotent stem cells. This novel discovery allowed researchers to take on a new approach to future stem cell therapies: removing differentiated cells from a patient, inducing pluripotency and reintroducing the induced pluripotent stem cells to the patient as a therapy. Currently, induced pluripotent stem cell therapies are a novel field of study and researchers are optimizing methods for the induction of pluripotent stem cell treatments. The Hathaway lab is currently taking a unique epigenetic approach to improving regenerative medicine therapies. We are developing small molecule compounds that can facilitate activation of the Oct4 factor from mouse embryonic fibroblast cells, a key step in stem cell generation. In a high throughput screen, fibroblast cells with a single Oct4 allele replaced with a GFP are treated with small molecules and monitored for GFP expression (representing a heterochromatin release at the Oct4 locus) with flow cytometry. Hits from the screen are followed up with western blot protein analysis, mass spectrometry, and small molecule affinity purification assays. Students interested in this project will obtain a multitude of modern laboratory skills including maintaining cell lines (stem cell lines, embryonic fibroblast cells lines, and human embryonic kidney cells), PCR, bacterial transformations, virus purifications, and western blot protein analysis.

Preceptor:
Shawn Hingtgen

Intern:
Luke Garges
Luke-Garges
High School:
Trinity

Clinical Mentor:
Jimmy Xu

Due to their expansive utility, stem cell-based therapies hold the potential to redefine therapeutic approaches and provide cures for many terminal diseases. In the Hingtgen lab, we seek to harness the potential of stem cells to develop new and better methods for treating terminal cancers, including brain cancer. We use an integrative approach that begins with creating specially designed targeted therapeutic proteins. We then “arm” different stem cell types with the anti-cancer molecules, and investigate the ability of stem cell-based therapies to improve both drug delivery and cancer cell killing using various small animal models of human brain cancer. Central to our research is the extensive integration of non-invasive imaging. We use multiple imaging modalities to provide real-time dynamic feedback on stem cell and tumor cell volumes and distribution, pharmacokinetics of drug delivery, and the overall effectiveness of our therapeutic approaches. By bringing together the tools and techniques of molecular biology, viral vectors, targeted therapeutics, stem cell biology, and molecular imaging with highly translatable animal models, we hope to ultimately bring successful cell-based treatments for brain tumors into the clinics.

Preceptor:
Sam Lai
samlai_jun15-directory

Intern:
Josie Cranfill
Josie-Cranfill
High School:
Trinity

Clinical Mentor:
Roman Timoshchenko

Laboratory Mentor:
Morgan McSweeney

The Lai Lab is offering a summer position in the area of nanoparticle drug delivery and polymer immunogenicity. The student will work closely with graduate students in the lab, and will gain experience with polymeric nanoparticle fabrication and characterize as well as measurement off polymer specific antibodies using ELISA assays. The overall purpose of the work is to better understand the adaptive immune response to nanomedicines containing polymers, which in turn would enable improvements in dose optimization and patient outcome.

Preceptor:
Andrew Lee

drewlee_jun15-directory

Intern:
Jonathan Stepp
Jonathan-Stepp
High School:
Trinity

Clinical Mentor:
Whitney Schlick

Research in the A. Lee lab is centered on the role of conformational dynamics in the function of proteins, such as enzymes that accelerate important biochemical reactions. We use an experimental method called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, that can gain structural and dynamic information at specific sites throughout the protein molecule. Available projects are all computer-based that will enable analysis of NMR data of various types. These projects involve development and/or use of a variety of computer programs for quantitative fitting of NMR “relaxation curves” or displaying a large amount of data for drawing conclusions about specific hypotheses. These programs are either in C++ or in MATLAB, and so these projects will increase familiarity with these powerful programming approaches.

Preceptor:
Jian Liu
liuj_jun15-directory

Intern:
Alexander Kyu
Alexander-Kyu
High School:
Raleigh Charter High School


Intern:
Anthony Kyu
Anthony-Kyu
High School:
Raleigh Charter High School

Clinical Mentor:
Stephen McMillan

Alexander and Anthony Kyu will join the summer research program at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy under the direction of Professor Jian Liu. Both are juniors at Raleigh Charter High School. They will participate in drug discovery-related research by in studying the effects and applications of Russell’s Viper Venom on the coagulation process. They are currently working closely with Professor Liu to design a research project for their YIP internship. Overall, Alexander and Anthony expect to learn about the research process and how to set up experiments to test our hypotheses.

Preceptor:
Dhiren Thakker
dthakker_jun15-directory

Intern:
Acelynn Barefoot
Acelynn-Barefoot
High School:
Northern High School

Clinical Mentor:
Jimmy Xu

Laboratory Mentor:
Laura Tollini

The Entrepreneurial Development Intern will shadow the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellow at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy to gain a broad understanding of technology commercialization and entrepreneurial development in the university setting. The intern will also be responsible for completing an independent project based on his/her strengths and interested; potential projects include market research, development of technology marketing materials, technology assessment, intellectual property review, and/or web-based resource development.

Preceptor:
Alex Tropsha
tropsha_jun15-directory

Intern:
Ponni Theetharappan
Ponni-Theetharappan
High School:
Enloe High School

Clinical Mentor:
Frank Tillman
Frank-Tillman

Laboratory Mentor:
Stephen Capuzzi

Protein kinases are enzymes that chemically modify other proteins by adding phosphate groups to them. Kinases, thus, regulate cellular pathways, particularly those involved in signal transduction. Deregulation of kinase activity can lead to aberrations in cell growth, motility, and death, thereby causing diseases such as cancer. Drugs that inhibit deregulated kinases, therefore, are sought after as treatments for various diseases. Using an approach called Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship (QSAR) modeling, a statistical relationship between the chemical structure of compounds and their associated anti-kinase activity can be derived computationally. These QSAR models can then be used to predict the anti-kinase activity of a compound. Compounds that are predicted to have anti-kinase activity will be tested and confirmed experimentally. The Tropsha lab at UNC-CH seeks a student interested in computational modeling and drug discovery, as the student will work on QSAR modeling of a particular kinase in the hopes of identifying an inhibitor and potential drug candidate.

Preceptor:
Tim Wiltshire
timw_jun15-directory

Intern:
Lindsey Kirby
Lindsey-Kirby
High School:
Trinity

Clinical Mentor:
Jesse Martin

Laboratory Mentor:
Olivia Dong

Determining the right dose of a drug, or the right drug, for a patient, based on their genetic information is now becoming part of what is termed Precision Medicine, or Personalized Medicine. We have developed a test, called PGx, that is used to determine the genetic information for 18 genes that are important pharmacogenes; that is they will provide the genetic information associated with over 100 prescribed drugs. Our PGx test is a new approach that uses next-generation sequencing: generating a lot of DNA sequence data. Projects would involve aspects of development of this test, analysis of DNA sequence data and how to report back the outcomes, or results.

Preceptor:
William Zamboni

Intern:
Caroline Blythe
Caroline-Blythe
High School:
Woods Charter School


Intern:
Hunter Hughes
Hunter-Hughes
High School:
Woods Charter School


Intern:
Mallory Storrie
Mallory-Storrie
High School:
Northwood High School


Intern:
Salem Williams
Salem-Williams
High School:
Northwood High School

Clinical Mentor:
Roman Timoshchenko

(Hunter and Caroline)


Clinical Mentor:
Hiral Jivanji

(Mallory and Salem)

Laboratory Mentor:
John Kagel

Zamboni’s laboratory focuses on the application of pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and pharmacogenetic principles in the optimization of the chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer. Information obtained from preclinical and clinical translational studies can greatly add to the understanding of the pharmacology of anticancer agents; permit individualization of chemotherapeutic treatment based on pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and pharmacogenetic principles; and allow for the rational design of therapeutic regimens. A second focus of his research is on the developments of nanosomal and nanoparticle anticancer agents and evaluating the relationship between the disposition f the s agents and the reticuloendothelial system. As part of these studies, he has used microdialysis to evaluate the tumor extracellular fluid disposition of anticancer agents and factors affecting the delivery and removal of anticancer agents. He has also developed methods and technologies to differentiate between the inactive-encapsulate and active-release forms of the drugs and is evaluating potential phenotypic probes from the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic disposition of nanosomal and nanoparticles. The clinical relevance of studies is underscored by the need to treat solid tumors with anticancer agents that have a high tumor delivery of liposomal and nanoparticle agents and generate administration schedules to enhance selective tumor uptake.