November 13, 2023
Ronny Bell, Ph.D., M.S., Craig Lee, Pharm.D., Ph.D., and Timothy Willson, Ph.D., join fourteen other faculty members with distinguished professor titles at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Appointment to a distinguished professorship is one of the highest faculty honors the School can bestow.
Ronny Bell ‘85, has been named the Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor, he is also the Chair in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy. His research focuses on health disparities in cancer as well as a concentration in chronic disease disparities with an emphasis on rural and underserved populations. “I am very grateful to Dean Kashuba for her faith in me in providing this incredible opportunity and to Dr. Eshelman for his support, not only for my distinguished professorship, but also for his ongoing support of our School,” said Bell.
As an enrolled member of the Lumbee tribe of Eastern North Carolina, Chair of the North Carolina American Indian Health Board, he is particularly interested in factors that contribute to health disparities in American Indian populations. He also co-leads the Southeastern American Indian Cancer Health Equity Partnership (SAICEP), a partnership between the Community Outreach and Engagement programs at the NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers at UNC, Duke and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, designed to engage North Carolina tribal communities in cancer research, outreach and education.
Craig Lee ‘00, ‘06, has been named the John A. and Deborah S. McNeill Jr. Distinguished Professor, he is also the Chair in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics (DPET). Lee is a licensed pharmacist in North Carolina and is trained as a clinical/translational pharmaceutical scientist with expertise in cytochrome P450 metabolism, cardiovascular experimental therapeutics, and precision medicine/pharmacogenomics. “I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition and be named the John A. and Deborah S. McNeill Jr. Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy,” said Lee.
Since initiation of his faculty appointment in 2006, Lee has established a highly collaborative and translational research program that integrates mechanistically driven rodent and cell-based preclinical models with observational and interventional clinical studies. Lee served as director of the School’s Research and Scholarship in Pharmacy pathway for Pharm.D. students from 2016-2021, the DPET vice chair for research and graduate education from 2019-2022 and is actively engaged as a teacher and mentor in the School’s professional, graduate and fellowship programs.
Timothy Willson has been named the Harold Kohn Distinguished Professor in Open Science Drug Discovery in the School’s Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC). The Willson laboratory is home to the U.S. site of the SGC, an open science public-private partnership that accelerates research on the lesser studied regions of the genome. “I am truly honored to accept this distinguished professorship from Dr. Kohn and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. This moment represents not only the culmination of my own journey in the realm of chemistry and drug discovery but also the collective efforts of many individuals who have guided my path,” said Willson.
The SGC‑UNC laboratory works closely with pharma companies and academic investigators to develop small molecule chemical probes of the dark proteome that are openly shared with the scientific community. Current research has led to the development of the Kinase Chemogenomic Set that contains selective inhibitors of more than 200 dark kinases. SGC‑UNC scientists are experts in medicinal chemistry, cell biology and chemical biology.