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Alumni Giving Research,
Grayson Mendenhall
December 3, 2014

Fred Eshelman gift for innovation
Eshelman’s commitment represents the largest gift ever to a U.S. pharmacy school.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today announced a $100 million commitment to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy from Fred Eshelman, a 1972 graduate of the School, founder and former CEO of Pharmaceutical Product Development, and founding chairman of Furiex Pharmaceuticals. The School was named for Eshelman in 2008.

The commitment—the largest from an individual in the University’s history and the largest ever made to a pharmacy school in the United States—will be used to create a center within the School named the Eshelman Institute for Innovation.

Making Ideas Reality and Taking Them Public

Through strategic collaborations inside and outside the University, the institute will help fuel innovation, create jobs and spur economic development in the state, while enabling the School to pursue new ways to enhance its position as a national and international leader. By providing faculty with new resources to engage in timely, opportunistic research, education, and practice, Carolina will drive innovation across the University and into society. It further advances Carolina’s vision of being a twenty-first-century public research university with an ever-expanding focus on discovery and entrepreneurship.

“Collaborative public-private investments like this new institute will drive the future of innovation at Carolina, and we cannot thank Dr. Eshelman enough for his continued support of the School’s leadership and of the leaders of tomorrow we are producing,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt.

“Thanks to Dr. Eshelman’s vision and generosity, we can pursue three critical components of the University’s overarching mission: to continue to attract the very best faculty and students from around the world who have a passion to innovate, to fuel economic development arising from their discoveries in an exciting learning environment, and to educate the next generation of leaders to be innovative and competitive,” she said.

“Dr. Eshelman has always encouraged us to take risks, and the Eshelman Institute for Innovation provides us with the ability to pursue high-risk, high-reward ideas with partners on campus and to push those ideas out into the world as advancements in education, pharmacy practice and health care,” said Robert Blouin, dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

“Pharmacy school faculty consistently and successfully join forces with colleagues from the School of Medicine, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the College of Arts and Sciences,” he said. “The Eshelman Institute for Innovation will accelerate these interdisciplinary partnerships and drive critical problem-solving across the University.”

Fred Eshelman
Fred Eshelman is a 1972 graduate of the school, founder and former CEO of Pharmaceutical Product Development and founding chairman of Furiex Pharmaceuticals.

A Legacy of Support

Eshelman previously donated $38 million to the School, including $3 million to support the School’s drug-discovery center (2014); $2.5 million for pharmacy education, pharmacy practice, research and training (2012); $9 million for cancer research (2008); and $20 million for scholarships, fellowships, faculty development in teaching and research, partnership development with community pharmacists, and residency programs (2003). There are currently five Eshelman Distinguished Professors at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

“I am inspired by the work being done by students, faculty and staff in the school of pharmacy. In the past ten years, the School has generated more than 130 patents and created fifteen spin-off companies,” said Fred Eshelman, who has been a member of the School’s Board of Visitors for more than a decade and has lectured at the School as an adjunct faculty member.

“Their success demonstrates the power and the future of drug discovery in academia, and it’s a future that I am eager and proud to support,” he said.

A Leading School

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy is second among the nation’s pharmacy schools in total federal research funding and specifically in National Institutes of Health funding. Its doctor of pharmacy program also ranked number two in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools.

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy has a history of driving innovation through unique interactions between academia and industry, producing nineteen spin-off companies in the history of the School, most recently Meryx, which is developing treatments for cancer and other diseases by inhibiting the action of an enzyme called Mer tyrosine. The School enrolls approximately 650 students in its professional degree program, more than 100 students in its graduate program and has more than 100 full-time faculty members.

  • Watch a highlight video of the announcement event below. You can also view an unedited version (52:30).

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