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NameEmailPhD ProgramResearch InterestPublications
Sheahan, Tim
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Microbiology & Immunology

RESEARCH INTEREST
Drug Discovery, Pathogenesis & Infection, Virology

Dr. Sheahan is an expert virologist with a primary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and a secondary appointment in Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine. His research is focused on understanding emerging viral diseases and developing new means to stop them with a current focus on coronavirus and hepacivirus.

Freeman, Ronit
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Applied Physical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Biophysics, Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Drug Delivery, Drug Discovery, Nanomedicine, Translational Medicine

My lab focuses on developing bioinspired molecular constructs and material platforms that can mimic proteins and be programmed to respond to stimuli resulting from biomolecular recognition. Major efforts are directed to design peptide- and nucleic acid-based scaffolds or injectable nanostructures to create artificial extracellular matrices that can directly signal cells.

Fenton, Owen

EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pharmaceutical Sciences

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, Drug Discovery, Nanomedicine, Translational Medicine

The broad aim of research in the Fenton Laboratory is to develop and evaluate synthetic drug delivery platforms to treat neurodegenerative disorders in the brain using RNA therapeutics. RNA therapeutics represent a particularly promising class of therapeutics for neurodegenerative management given their ability to tune levels of specific protein expression in living systems. For example, protein downregulation can be achieved by administering short interfering RNAs (siRNAs); alternatively, proteins can be upregulated by messenger RNA (mRNA) administration. Despite this promise, fewer than 0.05% of the world’s clinically approved drugs are RNA therapeutics, and their translation to neurodegenerative disorders in the brain warrants further study at the fundamental and clinical levels.

To address these challenges, our group focuses on the discovery and development of molecular carriers and technology platforms to improve the targeting, safety, and efficacy of RNA drugs within target cells. Specifically, our group leverages an interdisciplinary approach to develop lipid nanoparticles (LNP) as well as soft matter hydrogel platforms that can serve as carrier systems and/or drug delivery models for RNA drugs. Further, our group also explores the development of technological platforms to further expand the potential of RNA drugs within resource limited settings. Lastly, given that mRNA drugs can be engineered to encode for virtually any polypeptide or protein based antigen, our group also aims to leverage our platformable LNP technologies for the study and prevention of cancers and infectious disease. In undertaking such an approach, the goal of our research is to equip students with fundamental skillsets for the development of next generation drugs while simultaneously developing clinically-relevant carrier platforms and technologies for the study, prevention, and treatment of human disease.

Willson, Tim
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Pharmaceutical Sciences

RESEARCH INTEREST
Chemical Biology, Drug Discovery

A unifying goal of my research is the use of chemistry as a tool to illuminate human biology. For over two decades I have led programs to develop potent cell active chemical probes to identify and study the biological function of their target proteins. Starting in 1992 with the orphan nuclear receptors, my lab developed chemical probes to uncover the roles of PPAR, PPAR, LXR, FXR, CAR, and PXR in human physiology. The release of our chemical probes into the public domain supported research across the global scientific community and resulted in multiple drug candidates to treat diseases of human metabolism entering clinical development. I am co-discoverer of the FXR agonist obeticholic acid, which was approved by the FDA in 2016 as a drug for the treatment of Primary Biliary Cholangitis.

In 2007, I started a collaboration with the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) to discover chemical probes for the enzymes and reader domains involved in epigenetic regulation. Together, we built a consortium with support from public funders and eight pharmaceutical companies that has released over 40 high quality chemical probes into the public domain. We demonstrated that the bromodomain family of acetyl lysine reader domains were highly tractable targets for drug discovery, which led to the development of BRD4 inhibitors for the treatment of various rare cancers.

In 2015, I established the first US site of the SGC at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to expand the footprint of open science in US academia. I have assembled a team at SGC-UNC to create chemical tools for understudied (‘dark’) kinases, identify inhibitors of molecular targets that cause rare diseases, and develop chemical probes for proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases. With support from the NIH Illuminating the Druggable Genome program we assembled a Kinase Chemogenomic Set (KCGS): the largest, highly annotated and publicly available collection of small molecule kinase inhibitors. We used KCGS to identify kinases whose inhibition prevents replication of coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2. Medicinal chemists at the SGC-UNC are also developing chemical probes within the Med Chem Core of the NIA Target Enablement to Accelerate Therapy Development for Alzheimer’s Disease (TREAT-AD) program at UNC.

Colie, Meagan

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Drug Discovery, Neurobiology, Translational Medicine

Daglish, Sabrina

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, Drug Discovery

Dan-Dukor, Glory

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cancer Biology, Drug Discovery

Hazelton, Anthony

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Drug Delivery, Drug Discovery, Translational Medicine

Powers, Alex

EMAIL

PHD PROGRAM

RESEARCH INTEREST
Cell Biology, Drug Discovery, Neurobiology

Li, Zibo
WEBSITE
EMAIL
PUBLICATIONS

PHD PROGRAM
Biochemistry & Biophysics, Chemistry

RESEARCH INTEREST
Biochemistry, Drug Delivery, Drug Discovery, Molecular Medicine, Nanomedicine

My research has focused on developing new radio-chemistry, imaging probes, and therapeutic approaches including nanomedicine for various diseases. Most importantly, we have the culture of forming an active collaboration with people in different field. With a cGMP lab located within our facility, we are also experienced on developing lead agents and translate it to clinic.