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Skrajna Awarded American Cancer Society Postdoc Fellowship

January 24, 2019

Aleksandra Skrajna, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been awarded a three-year post-doctoral fellowship from the American Cancer Society. The fellowship, worth over $150,000 over three years, supports the training of promising post-doctoral scientists in preparation for independent careers in cancer research. Skrajna works in the lab of Robert McGinty, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor at the School and an associate Lineberger member. Skrajna’s research is focused on how enzymes bind to our genetic material in cells to ensure that our genes are expressed appropriately. “By understanding how … Continued

Self-Taught UNC AI System Designs Drugs from Scratch

July 31, 2018

An artificial-intelligence approach created at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can teach itself to design new drug molecules from scratch. ReLeaSE is an algorithm and computer program developed at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. It comprises two neural networks: a teacher and a student. The teacher knows the syntax and linguistic rules behind the vocabulary of chemical structures for about 1.7 million known biologically active molecules, said K. H. Lee Distinguished Professor Alexander Tropsha, Ph.D., one of the creators of the new AI system. “After learning the molecular alphabet and the rules of the language, the … Continued

Albert Bowers Promoted to Associate Professor

July 9, 2018

Albert Bowers, Ph.D., a faculty member in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry, has been promoted to the rank of associate professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Bowers is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and an affiliate member of the School’s Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery. Bowers’ research focuses on harnessing natural product biosynthesis to make next generation therapeutics. Researchers in the Bowers Lab, who go by the Twitter handle @BowersRangers, use insights and chemistries from natural product biosynthesis to facilitate the discovery and development of new natural product-like … Continued

Eshelman Institute Awards $3.5 Million in June 2018 Funding Round

June 20, 2018

The Eshelman Institute for Innovation on June 1 funded projects proposed by 25 UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy faculty and staff members totaling more than $3.5 million. The Eshelman Institute was created by a $100 million gift from alumnus, philanthropist and pharmaceutical executive Fred Eshelman, Pharm.D., to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in December 2014. The institute aims to inspire a culture of innovation where imagination and creative solutions accelerate change in education, research and health care. The Eshelman Institute has awarded more than $20.8 million since 2015. Awards are divided into three funding tiers: tier 1 projects are funded up to $50,000, … Continued

SGC@UNC Researchers Adopt ‘Extreme’ Open Science, Share Data as It Happens

April 26, 2018

Researchers in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy are taking part in an experiment in experimentation by making their research publicly available as it happens. Postdoctoral research associates Alfredo Picado, Ph.D., and Carla Alamillo Ferrer, Ph.D., are participants in the Structural Genomics Consortium’s Extreme Open Science Initiative, which encourages SGC scientists in labs around the world to publish their notes online. The UNC-Chapel Hill hub of the SGC, run by Tim Willson, Ph.D., conducts open research into new protein kinase inhibitors with the aim of expanding drug discovery and creation. The norm in science is to guard data until publication. … Continued

UNC Releases Huge Database of Molecules to Support Artificial Intelligence Methods in Chemistry

April 2, 2018

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Florida have publicly released a massive set of data that they used to create an artificial intelligence that drastically cuts the time needed to design new molecules in drug discovery and other areas of chemistry. The high quality database is publicly available to aid other researchers in creating similar tools and contains over 20 million conformations — or structural variations — of more than 57,000 small, drug-like molecules. In 2017 UNC-Chapel Hill and UF scientists created the ANAKIN-ME method, a neural network that can calculate the … Continued

As Hawke Retires, Jarstfer Steps in as Graduate Education Assistant Dean

March 26, 2018

After serving as the assistant dean for graduate education with distinction since the position was created in 2011, Roy Hawke, Ph.D., is stepping down in conjunction with his decision to retire. Associate Professor Michael Jarstfer, Ph.D., succeeded Hawke as assistant dean effective March 1. “Our graduate students and faculty owe Roy a big debt of gratitude for his selfless and tireless service on their behalf,” said Dhiren Thakker, Ph.D., interim dean of the School. “On behalf of the students, faculty and staff of the School, I am happy to welcome Mike to his new role and thank Roy for providing … Continued

Huang, Roth among 2017’s Most Highly Cited Researchers

January 29, 2018

Leaf Huang, Ph.D., and Bryan Roth, M.D., Ph.D., both faculty members at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, were included in Clarivate Analytics’ roster of the most highly cited researchers of 2017. Clarivate Analytics assembled the roster of more than 3,300 highly cited researchers. The researchers included have published a high number of papers that rank in the top 1 percent most cited in 21 fields of science from 2005 to 2015. Huang, the Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor in the Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics, is included in the field of pharmacology and toxicology. Huang is a co-principal investigator … Continued

UNC Researchers Create Light-Activated Version of a Ubiquitous Protein Kinase

January 12, 2018

In a lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a tiny blue light flashes, and a protein switches on in a cell. Light directs the protein to the mitochondria of the targeted cell. Alternatively, by a bit of genetic tweaking, the protein can be directed to the cell membrane or the cytoskeleton of the cell. This selective targeting and activation allows scientists to see exactly what the protein is doing in a single place and time. This technology is possible due to the efforts of a team at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy led by Fred … Continued

UNC Scientists Take a Big Step toward a Better Opioid

January 10, 2018

For the first time, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and collaborators solved the crystal structure of the activated kappa opioid receptor bound to a morphine derivative. They then created a new drug-like compound that activates only that receptor, a key step in the development of better pain medications. The research, published in the journal Cell, shows a route toward creating opioids that relieve pain without causing the severe side effects at the heart of the opioid epidemic. Currently, most opioids bind to several opioid receptors on the surface of cells, and this is one of the main reasons … Continued