The UNC Catalyst:

  • is a research group committed to understanding the functional consequences of genetic mutations;
  • works with patient organizations that lack ‘wet lab’ bench resources to pursue rare disease research objectives;
  • trains post-doctoral fellows to become the scientific experts for specific rare diseases;
  • partners with foundations, patient groups and individuals to raise funds and advocate for rare disease research;
  • operates as an open access science model.

NIH / NCATS Assay Guidance Workshop

October 23, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

This full-day workshop will cover a broad range of critical concepts underlying assay
development for high-throughput screening (HTS) and lead discovery projects.

The UNC Catalyst will create high quality research tools for disease-related proteins, and will share these catalytic reagents with the entire research community immediately and without restriction upon discovery.

This generation of tools by the UNC Catalyst serves the purpose of enabling the exploration of disease pathobiology with the overall aims of accelerating the pace of discovery and helping to define options for therapeutic intervention. The UNC Catalyst will partner with the Genetic Alliance and the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC-UNC) to assemble the appropriate ‘toolkit’ for each disease explored. 

Additionally, the UNC Catalyst will address a key need through partnering with patient groups and researchers to support their work, since funding to develop these critical biological tools is difficult to attract.

Creating Research Tools
In collaboration with the SGC-UNC and Genetic Alliance, we will build critical research tools to drive research and enable greater understanding of rare diseases.

Leveraging Open Science
Using a precompetitive open science model, we will share knowledge and materials created by this initiative freely and without restriction with research communities.

Engaging Research Partners
We will work with patient groups and rare disease foundations to raise funds for the recruitment, training and funding of post-doctoral fellows.

The UNC Catalyst held its 2017 Rare Disease Symposium on March 1. The agenda and speaker presentations are available for download.

2017 Rare Disease Symposium Agenda and Presentations

Dave Morris

Acting Director
UNC Catalyst for Rare Diseases
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy


Tammy Havener

Senior Research Associate
UNC Catalyst for Rare Diseases
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Kim Swain

Center Administrator
UNC Catalyst for Rare Diseases
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy



A postdoctoral position at the UNC Catalyst is available immediately for a highly motivated scientist interested in characterizing the molecular, biochemical and cellular impact of gene mutations.

Job Openings