Eshelman gives $3 million gift to Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy has received a $3 million gift from philanthropist and pharmaceutical-industry executive Fred Eshelman. Eshelman’s gift will support the work of the School’s Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, led by UNC Lineberger member Stephen Frye, PhD. The center is dedicated to evaluating and developing potential drug targets discovered by UNC faculty.

Eshelman gives $3 million gift to Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery click to enlarge Stephen Frye, PhD

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy is one of the nation’s top pharmacy schools. It ranks second in total research funding and has the number-two doctor of pharmacy program in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.


Researchers at UNC often discover interesting biological systems that could represent novel drug targets. These targets can be thought of as locks, and the CICBDD studies the “locks” to see if a pharmaceutical key can be created to stop or start biological processes related to diseases.

The CICBDD bridges the gap that exists between the biological sciences that define the basis for disease (the locks) and translational medicine, which creates treatments for patients (the keys). This gap exists at almost all universities, and as a consequence, academic drug discovery centers are a growing enterprise, said Frye.

The center has a strong focus on seeking new treatments for cancer. In its seven years of existence, the center has collaborated with more than forty-five research groups at UNC and brought in approximately $20.5 million in research funding. This activity has resulted in a number of filed patents and contributed to the creation of two spinoff companies.

 “This gift will enable us to advance scientific discoveries made by UNC faculty by creating new medications to benefit cancer patients,” says Frye, who is also one of the pharmacy school’s Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professors. “We are very grateful to Dr. Eshelman for continuing his support of the center and of our collaborations with faculty in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and across campus.

“Knowing he believes so strongly in our ability to develop new therapies for cancer patients is very motivating for us.”

Fred Eshelman

Eshelman graduated from the pharmacy school at UNC in 1972 and founded Wilmington-based PPD Inc. in 1985.

He has supported the school with gifts totaling approximately $38 million and serves as a member of its board of visitors and as an adjunct faculty member. In 2008, the pharmacy school was renamed in his honor.