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Eshelman Institute for Innovation News Sidebar Featured News, Sam Lai
Brittany Jennings
April 20, 2020

The Eshelman Institute for Innovation (EII) recently awarded Sam Lai, Ph.D., a $50,000 opportunistic grant to pursue COVID-19 research.

The award will fund the development of a number of nebulized monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based therapy against COVID-19. This is based on the “muco-trapping” mAb platform that the Lai Lab has pioneered over the past 10 years. These mAbs, when delivered by inhalation, will neutralize the virus and quickly eliminate them from lung airways.

“The funding provided by EII provides essential resources for us to continue our development of a number of potent antibody molecules for COVID-19, while we await other funding resources.  It ensures we don’t slowdown in our quest to advance a therapy to the patients as quickly as possible,” Lai said.

Lai is an associate professor in the Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics, and runs a diverse group at the interface of engineering, immunology and drug delivery.  His previous inventions have led to a number of products that are either FDA-approved or in late stage clinical studies.

The EII’s funding of proposals is not limited to the Institute’s scheduled grant cycle. The EII does distribute funds on an opportunistic basis, such as the grant Lai received. For more information, or to present an opportunist research idea, email


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