Closing in on a Cure for HIV
HIV. Brain tumors. Infectious disease processes. Global costs of disease. Community pharmacy-based illness prevention. Clinical reasoning and decision-making skills. The pharmacist’s role on inter-professional teams.
There’s hardly a facet of healthcare that our 118 full-time faculty aren’t working overtime to address. Not only that, they’re revolutionizing the teaching process – literally re-inventing the way teachers share, and students absorb and apply, knowledge.
The School exists to create new knowledge and transmit it to the next generation of professionals. Our faculty do that, and more. “Faculty are translating discoveries into better education for our students, economic benefits for our state and beyond, and better health for our citizens,” Dean Bob Blouin said.
Our faculty are world leaders in their disciplines. They prepare students for careers in practice, research, industry and education. They are entrepreneurs, generating 131 patents in the last decade, and 19 spin-off companies.
And they are worthy of your support.
Angela Kashuba is an example. A faculty member for 19 years, she holds the John and Deborah McNeill Jr. Distinguished Professorship. She is chair of the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics, and serves as director of the UNC Center for AIDS Research Clinical Pharmacology and Analytical Chemistry Core. She is a diplomat of the American Board of Clinical Pharmacology.
Kashuba describes her work on HIV in terms a layman understands: “My goal is to ensure that every patient gets the right drug in the right dose to the right place for the right time for the maximum impact.”
The McNeill Professorship is more than a title. It makes her work, and the work of others, possible. Kashuba strategically budgets annual income from the endowed gift to pay student lab workers, launch preliminary research that may lead to larger grants, train faculty in new lab techniques and meet with potential funders. When she needed a new computer for her lab to run data-intense software for a new drug imaging platform she was using, and no other funds were available, McNeill Professorship money came to the rescue.
“It helps the lab and the people working in the lab increase their efficiency,” she said.
One of her PharmD lab assistants, paid through the professorship, generated new insights on how drugs enter lymph nodes, and the student will present her results at an international conference. “That funding helped develop important data for our research field and developed a PharmD student,” Kashuba said. “It was good for everyone.”
Kashuba is acutely aware that gifts from donors make a difference for faculty across the School. State funds are limited and grants tend to flow to proven successes. Knowing that alumni and friends make gifts to assist faculty, she said, “validates the importance of our work and the contributions we make to science.”
Donors may give at any level to help faculty, and every gift makes a difference. Annual gifts, such as those at the Dean’s Club ($1,000 and up) or Chancellor’s Club ($2,000 and up) levels, are put to work immediately at the dean’s discretion to help faculty cover needs or meet opportunities. Larger endowed gifts ($100,000 and up) provide permanent annual income. Donors can name endowed funds and, in consultation with the School, direct the funding to specific areas or purposes.
What does Kashuba want to say to donors? “I want them to know how hard it is to put into words the impact their gifts make,” she said. “They make a difference on a daily basis. We can do a good job without funds, but with funds we can do an outstanding job….a spectacular job. I firmly believe these funds have helped us get to number one.”
In Kashuba’s case, gifts are helping her and others close in on a cure for HIV. “A cure for HIV is pretty exciting; something that was unimaginable when I first came to UNC . It all comes down to treating one patient at a time and treating them appropriately,” she said.
“Most of what we are doing, no one would try. My research group loves overcoming obstacles, trying things nobody tries … We have a sign in our lab with a quote from Nelson Mandela: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ We try to live by that.”