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Eshelman Innovation Establishes Research Collaboration with Aston University

Headshots of Kevin Frankowski, Ph.D. and Roslyn Bill, Ph.D.

As part of a new collaboration, Eshelman Innovation (formerly Eshelman Institute for Innovation), within the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, will work with Aston University on a three-year project focused on preventing damage caused by swelling of the central nervous system (CNS).

Eshelman Innovation was established in 2014 with a $100 million commitment from Fred Eshelman, Pharm.D, and provides translational grant funding to Carolina faculty for therapeutic research focused on oncology, infectious disease, and neuroscience (including rare diseases); however, Eshelman Innovation welcomes ideas for devices and diagnostics, and other therapeutic areas and services. Through their grant mechanism, Eshelman Innovation encourages research proposals that include a broad spectrum of scientific engagement through meaningful collaborations across a variety of diverse disciplines, departments, schools, and institutions.  

Regarding this new partnership, John Bamforth, Ph.D., Executive Director of Eshelman Innovation and a former graduate of Aston University, said, “We are extremely excited to see this collaboration begin. Eshelman Innovation embraces bringing together the brightest and best scientists to solve major patient needs. Personally, it is also a delight to see the number one School of pharmacy in the U.S. partner with Aston.” 

Eshelman Innovation issued a $400k grant to co-principal investigators Kevin Frankowski, Ph.D., assistant professor for the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery at the School, and Roslyn Bill, Ph.D., professor of biotechnology at Aston, to develop treatments for CNS swelling. 

“The validation of non-surgical approaches to treat the CNS swelling that may occur following a stroke or traumatic brain or spine injuries remains a critical unmet medical challenge. Safe and effective treatment options are urgently needed for the millions of patients worldwide who suffer from these injuries every year. I am excited to partner with Roslyn Bill and her team to develop first-in-class small molecule candidates as potential therapeutic agents to treat the underlying cause of CNS swelling post stroke or accident,” said Frankowski. 

Both Frankowski and Bill bring unique and necessary knowledge to the table for this project. The opportunity to work together, research and develop new therapeutic agents is only possible because of Eshelman Innovation. 

“It gives me unparalleled access to the medicinal chemistry expertise at Eshelman Innovation and I’ll be working with a world expert in their neuropharmacology area, Kevin Frankowski. That will allow us to combine the discovery that I’ve made on the biological mechanism behind traumatic brain injury and Kevin’s deep knowledge of the chemistry. I can’t think of a better partner for that. This work will get us closer to a medicine for people who’ve had a traumatic injury to the brain or spinal cord. There’s currently nothing available so the potential is huge,” said Bill. 

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