Our faculty labs across all five divisions within the School bring together scientists and researchers from different backgrounds and varying specialties to advance knowledge and create solutions for the world’s biggest healthcare challenges.
Find and characterize new therapeutic targets and agents
The Aubé laboratory uses synthetic chemistry to enable the study of biological pathways and as starting points for drug discovery.
Research in the Bowers Lab is concentrated on the synthesis, assessment, and modification of potential therapeutic leads, especially those derived from natural products.
The Drewry lab in focused on designing, synthesizing, evaluating, and sharing small molecule chemical probes for protein kinases.
Research in the Frankowski lab uses synthetic chemistry to develop new approaches for the treatment of unmet medical needs.
The Frye lab focuses on chemical biology of chromatin regulation with an emphasis on proteins that bind methylated lysine, and collaborative oncology drug discovery with faculty in the Lineberger Cancer Center.
The Haar lab focuses on investigating the role that refined spatial and temporal control of intracellular signaling cascades can play in the progression of cardiovascular injury. We use a research strategy involving plasmid and optogenetic protein engineering, high content screening, high resolution microscopy and physiologically based cell analysis.
The Hathaway lab was established at UNC with a founding idea that the group could make a contribution to understanding dynamic epigenetic processes by using unique chemical biology approaches they pioneered.
The James lab is interested in modulating the activity of chromatin reader proteins with small-molecule ligands, specifically potent and selective chemical probes, in order to open new avenues of research in the field of chromatin biology and potentially translate to compounds of therapeutic value.
The Jarstfer lab is interested in targeting telomere biology for aging disorders and cancer treatment strategies and exploring the mechanism of oxytocin in controlling social behavior.
The Kireev lab develops and applies computational tools to advance our understanding of complex biological systems and discover therapies for unmet medical needs.
The Lawrence lab works to understand the biochemical processes of the cell by studying them as they happen in the cell as opposed to studying them in vitro.
Andrew Lee studies the role of conformational dynamics in protein function, conformational changes, enzyme catalysis, drug binding, and allostery. His laboratory uses a variety of biophysical and biochemical tools, especially NMR spectroscopy.
Research in the Jian Liu group is focused on glycobiology and glycobiochemistry, an emerging field that emphasizes the biological functions of carbohydrates.
The Liu laboratory’s research interests focus on the development and application of novel drug target-binding affinity molecules by integrating directed molecular selection and evolution, ligand design and engineering, in vitro cellular and signaling characterization, and in vivo therapeutic efficacy studies in tumor mouse models.
The McGinty lab studies molecular mechanisms of chromatin signaling. By pairing atomic precision protein chemistry with high resolution structural biology, they aim to understand how the nucleosome functions as a signaling hub for gene expression, DNA replication, and DNA damage repair in development and disease.
The Pattenden lab develops innovative techniques in chromatin-based therapeutic target discovery and cancer diagnostics.
The Pearce lab utilizes numerous methods for conducting early drug and chemical probe discovery research.
Bryan Roth, PhD, MD, is a professor in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry and in the Department of Pharmacology.
Alexander Tropsha’s lab develops new methodologies, software tools and applications in the areas of computer-assisted drug design, chemical toxicology, materials informatics, text mining, and health care informatics.
The Wang lab is interested in developing drug leads/candidates for kinase, phosphate kinase and protein targets identified by UNC faculty and external investigators.
The Willson laboratory is home to the US site of the SGC, an open science consortium that accelerates research on the lesser studied regions of the genome.
The Zhang lab studies lipid signaling pathways that are involved in human disease by developing novel chemical probes and technologies.
Learn more about Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry
Deliver therapeutic agents for successful outcomes
Kristy Ainslie’s lab aims to design practical and innovative formulations, taking into account the scalable production and applications in developing nations.
The Anselmo lab focuses on understanding microbe-material-host tissue interactions to develop: (i) formulations for the improved delivery of therapeutic microbes, (ii) materials-based in vitro culture approaches to enable the co-culture of microbial ecologies alongside mammalian cells, and (iii) targeted approaches for the delivery of therapeutic microbes.
In the Hingtgen lab, we seek to harness the potential of stem cells to develop new and better methods for treating terminal cancers, including brain cancer. We use an integrative approach that begins with creating specially designed targeted therapeutic proteins.
Jay’s research projects involve the development and commercialization of drug formulations and targeted delivery systems.
Alexander Kabanov is the director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery. The center’s research focuses on safely and efficiently translating new therapeutic and imaging agents from bench to bedside with the goal of improving human health.
Research in the Lai Lab focuses broadly on infectious diseases at mucosal surfaces, targeted drug delivery and nanoparticle-immune interactions using a variety of tools from biophysics, molecular biology, immunology and engineering.
The Nguyen lab conducts research that focuses on the design and engineering of novel nano-scale carriers based on genetically encoded materials, lipids, and polymers for the treatment of ischemia.
Learn more about Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics
Discover and evaluate the factors that influence how therapeutic agents work
Dr. Brouwer directs an NIH-funded research program focused on hepatobiliary drug disposition and development and refinement of in vitro model systems to predict in vivo hepatobiliary disposition, drug interactions, and hepatotoxicity.
Cao’s group is interested in developing system pharmacology platforms (models) integrating PK/PD to facilitate drug development and optimize therapeutics for cancers and autoimmune diseases.
His translational research program focuses on how genetic variations can lead to differences in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of therapeutic treatments used in oncology, and how inter-individual differences in clinical pharmacology measures can affect survival and drug toxicity phenotypes.
Her primary research interest is the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of antiretrovirals.
His research interests include pediatric clinical pharmacology and the application of mathematical modeling and simulation techniques to characterize the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs, guide dosage selection, and improve drug safety in children.
The Heinzen Lab focuses on the genetic and genomic basis of epilepsy disorders, including analyses of the role of germline mutations, somatic mutations, and how regulation of the cellular transcriptome influences the risk and presentation of seizures.
Dr. Innocenti’s NIH-funded research program is currently focused on the discovery of genomic determinants of efficacy and toxicity of cancer chemotherapy, integrating clinical genomic investigation with functional evaluation of gene variation.
Klarissa Jackson’s research interests focus on drug metabolism and toxicology to better understand the mechanisms and risk factors of adverse drug reactions and improve drug safety.
Dr. Kashuba’s research focuses on the clinical pharmacology of drugs used in the treatment, prevention, and cure of HIV infection.
His research focuses on cytochrome P450 metabolism, cardiovascular experimental therapeutics, and precision medicine/pharmacogenomics.
Rao’s principal research interests surround quantitative systems pharmacology, and she is working to understand the processes of infectious diseases.
The institute focuses on developing innovative approaches to investigate the underlying mechanisms of rare or “idiosyncratic” toxicities that are often not discovered until late in clinical development.
The Wilshire Lab’s research focuses on taking the pharmacogenetic knowledge we already have and develop approaches for that information to be used effectively in clinical practice.
His research interests focus on the application of pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and pharmacogenetic principles in the optimization of the chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer.
Learn more about Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics
Advance education and the practice of pharmacy
The Global Health Economics for Pharmacy (GHEP) works to develop economic evidence for vaccines, medicines and pharmacy practice to save lives, improve quality of care and reduce poverty globally.
The Center for Innovative Pharmacy Education and Research works to improve the practice of pharmacy education and enhance the scholarship of and research on pharmacy education.
The Center for Medication Optimization works to bring together healthcare stakeholders to create impactful real world research, generate evidence, disseminate best practices, and advance education that integrates medication optimization into value based care delivery and payment models.
Learn more about Practice Advancement and Clinical Education
Identify the health outcomes and value of therapies, policies and practices
Blalock’s work focuses on patient-provider communication concerning medication risks and the evaluation of community-pharmacy-based programs focused on illness prevention and disease management.
Dr. Carpenter directs a funded research program that is focused in the areas ofpatient-provider communication, mobile and digital health, and rural health.
The ETrUOP Research Program is anchored on the research areas in Evaluating Treatment Utilization and Outcomes in Populations
Sleath’s research focuses on provider-patient communication in the areas of asthma, ADHD, diabetes, and glaucoma, engaging children and parents more in medication discussions during pediatric visits, and improving patient medication adherence and other health outcomes through interventions.
Dr. Roberts’ research focuses on evaluating and improving the implementation of genomic medicine. In particular, she is interested in conducting research to understand how precision medicine technologies can be implemented to improve access to, and reduce disparities in, high quality care and prevention.
Carolyn Thorpe, PhD, MPH is an associate professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy. She conducts research to evaluate and improve prescribing quality and safety and medication adherence in older adults with multiple chronic conditions.
Dr. Thorpe’s research program focuses on reducing the overuse of unnecessary or inappropriate medications in medically-complex older adults. He has conducted extensive research on unsafe use in older Veterans with dementia, chronic high-dose opioid use, non-adherence and oversupply of chronic disease medications, the role of over-the-counter medications in unsafe medication use, and the dyadic nature of unsafe use of dementia patients and their family caregivers, among other topics.
Alan’s research focuses generally on pharmaco-epidemiology and health services research that leverages large and high-dimensional secondary data, including healthcare claims data, clinical registry data, and electronic health records.
Casey Tak’s research is primarily focused on women’s health, examining pharmaceutical and health services use in pregnancy/postpartum, and access to contraception. He is also interested in the integration of pharmacists in clinical teams and the resulting patient and economic outcomes.
Dr. Niznik has developed expertise in pharmacoepidemiology, with skills in observational and quasi-experimental study designs, large database analyses, statistical approaches to minimize confounding in studies of medically complex older adults.
The Elston Lafata Team is a diverse group of health care researchers, quality improvement leaders and analysts, students, and postdoctoral trainees. As a team, we work to understand how patient-provider communication and decision making affect the quality of healthcare delivered to and received by diverse populations of patients.
Dr. Davis’s lab is focused on the following areas: Improving patients’ ability to take their medications correctly to improve their outcomes; Implementing and evaluating the impact of quality improvement initiatives led by MAHEC, particularly in the area of maternal and child health; Improving mental health services in North Carolina and reducing health disparities by reducing barriers to mental health care access and utilization
We conduct research in behavioral economics to improve access to care, quality of care and outcomes for adults and children with mental health conditions. Our work is stakeholder engaged and uses a variety of data sources: primary and secondary data, electronic health records, claims, and other public records with input from stakeholders using interviews, focus groups and discrete choice experiments.