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Featured Research UNC Structural Genomics Consortium, Sam Lai
Grayson Mendenhall
May 1, 2018



Provost Bob Blouin, Pharm.D., founding director of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, caps off the night at the 2018 EII Symposium.
Provost Bob Blouin, Pharm.D., founding director of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, caps off the evening.

The Eshelman Institute for Innovation held its 2018 Igniting Innovation Symposium Thursday, April 19, at the Carolina Inn.

The evening kicked off with a cocktail reception and poster session before attendees moved into the Hill Ballroom for a series of presentations on EII-funded initiatives

Mieke Lynch, the Eshelman Institute program manager, gave an overview of the Young Innovators Program with the help of former YIP interns Erin Blanding and Ryan Kemper. YIP was launched in 2016 as part of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s effort to broaden its outreach and diversity. Each summer, high school student interns participate in cutting-edge research projects in leading labs at the School, attend professional development panels, tour biotechnology companies and clinics at UNC Hospitals and perform problem-solving activities. Participants work with faculty, grad student and Pharm.D. student mentors during their summer internships. At the end of the summer, YIP interns present their research and experience to an audience of their peers, mentors, families and teachers at the annual YIP Research Symposium.

Tim Willson, Ph.D., declares that the EII-funded Structural Genomics Consortium at UNC is open for business.
Tim Willson, Ph.D., declares that the EII-funded Structural Genomics Consortium at UNC is open for business.

Tim Willson, Ph.D., announced that the first U.S. site of the Structural Genomics Consortium is now “open for business” at UNC. The SGC is an international public-private drug-target discovery consortium that catalyzes research in new areas of human biology  and drug discovery.

Willson is the director of the SGC-UNC team, which is dedicated to discovering and openly sharing selective, small molecule inhibitors of protein kinases. Their work aims to expand drug discovery across this important class of disease-relevant proteins and help speed the creation of new medicines for patients.

Sam Lai, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics, shared the effect EII funding has had on germinating and advancing the technologies developed by his lab. His discoveries have generated two companies, Mucommune and AI Tracking Solutions. Mucommune is developing mucosal biologics for the treatment and prevention of a variety of infectious diseases. AI Tracking Solutions is using artificial intelligence to enable automated analysis of video microscopy data common in research setting. Both companies have recently received substantial Small Business Innovation Research program support.

Professor Joe DeSimone, Ph.D., delivered the keynote address. DeSimone is the inventor of continuous liquid interface production., a photochemical process that eliminates the shortcomings of conventional 3D printing by harnessing light and oxygen to rapidly produce objects from a pool of resin.
Professor Joe DeSimone, Ph.D., delivered the keynote address. DeSimone is the inventor of continuous liquid interface production, a photochemical process using light and oxygen to rapidly produce objects from a pool of resin.

After dinner, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, Ph.D., introduced keynote speaker Joe DeSimone, Ph.D., Chancellor’s Eminent Professor in the UNC Department of Chemistry and CEO & co-founder of Carbon, a company developing continuous liquid interface production. CLIP is a photochemical process that eliminates the shortcomings of conventional 3D printing by harnessing light and oxygen to rapidly produce objects from a pool of resin. Carbon is currently using this technology in collaboration with Adidas to manufacture the 3-D printed Futurecraft 4D sneaker.

Provost Robert Blouin, Pharm.D., capped off the evening with the closing remarks.

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