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Therapeutics

Eshelman Innovation Helps Launch UNC CRISPR Screening Facility

Biomek workstation in a research lab

In 2012, a revolutionary new way to edit genes was unveiled to the world – CRISPR. Since then, the technology has been named as a “Breakthrough of the Year” by Science and has expanded to be applied to targeted epigenome editing. Now, this exciting technology is coming to UNC-Chapel Hill to enable rapid whole genome screening for new drug targets in the CRISPR Genetic & Epigenetic Screening Center (CGESC). The state-of-the-art facility positions UNC to become a leader in academic CRISPR screening. The CGESC opened its doors to the UNC community on October 1st.

The CGESC, located on the second floor of the Genetic Medicine Building, will offer both arrayed screens and pooled whole-genome screens. Both services include screen design, experimental work, and detailed analysis. While the center is primarily for use by UNC PIs, services will be available to external users, including other universities and biotech companies.

The new facility was made possible by a cross-campus collaboration driven by Eshelman Innovation (formerly Eshelman Institute for Innovation), and supported by the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the School of Medicine, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. In addition, NC Biotech provided a generous equipment grant to help purchase key machinery for the facility.

“I am thrilled to bring a modern genetic and epigenetic screening facility to UNC’s laboratories. The CGESC will enable many future discoveries and fill UNC’s drug discovery teams with new project pipelines,” said CRISPR Facility Director Nate Hathaway, Associate Professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. “With CRISPR, we have the ability to continue to help patients struggling with the world’s most challenging health issues.”

The CGESC is currently accepting proposals for screens through their website. Interested researchers may also reach out by email to discuss their project—CRISPR@unc.edu.

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