Skip to main content

Therapeutics Accelerator

Through strategic funding and translational initiatives, we de-risk cutting-edge innovations and move assets from discovery to preclinical and early development studies.

Our Focus Areas

Eshelman Innovation drives therapeutic strategy, creates enabling drug discovery infrastructure, and funds pre-clinical projects to create partner-ready assets for the world’s most pressing healthcare challenges. The institute has granted more than $30 million toward therapeutic efforts with an early-stage pipeline focused on novel target discovery, target validation, and platform technologies. 

An icon of a cancer ribbon representing oncology


Leveraging UNC’s deep expertise in oncology research, and in collaboration with the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, we seek to fund innovative therapeutics projects targeted at cancer indications with high unmet need.

An icon of a brain representing neuroscience


We fund differentiated therapeutic concepts in neurodegenerative diseases, injury, and neurodevelopmental disorders. In collaboration with the North Carolina Collaboratory, we also fund projects in the areas of pain and substance use disorders.

An icon of bacteria representing infectious disease

Infectious Disease

Our main focus in this therapeutic area is through the efforts of READDI, a UNC associated non-profit entity that aims to develop Phase-2 ready small molecule antivirals against several viral families in preparation for the next pandemic.

Creating meaningful impact

Two men engaged in conversation at a business symposium

Eshelman Innovation Executive Director John Bamforth (left) speaks with former U.S. Senator and READDI board member Richard Burr during “Ready on Day 1,” a September 2023 symposium addressing the importance of pandemic preparedness and broad-spectrum therapeutics, READDI’s signature approach.

A group of researchers watching a nurse draw on a whiteboard

Associate Director of Brain Slice Technology Andrew Satterlee (right) and his team meet with pediatric neuro-oncologist Dr. David Kram (middle) to discuss new data collected on an ongoing clinical trial. The trial seeks to determine the feasibility of engrafting, treating, and analyzing patient brain tumor tissue on organotypic brain slice cultures.

Three team members brainstorming in front of their laptops

Director of Therapeutics Commercial Strategy Sumitra Pati (middle) meets with her Therapeutics Accelerator team to review the latest developments within the Eshelman Innovation therapeutic portfolio.

Executive Director, John Bamforth, PhD, speaks at the 2024 Radiopharmaceuticals Summit hosted by Eshelman Innovation and NC Biotech Center. Following the event, Eshelman Innovation will partner with UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to fund strategic research in radiopharmaceuticals.

Our process

At Eshelman Innovation, our comprehensive support begins with the initial project consultation and design, extending through submission, review, and execution to the proof-of-concept stage. We bring industry-level competitive intelligence, efficient project management, and valuable connections to our industry advisory board and external partners. Our goal is to propel projects from conceptualization in the lab to becoming investment-ready, commercially-viable therapeutic solutions.

A researcher working in a lab
  • Ideation support with market intelligence
  • Early advice on translational study design
  • Resources to build meaningful collaborations
  • Translational funding to transform innovative ideas into therapeutics and platform technologies
  • Robust project management support to track progress, milestones, and outcomes
  • Funding is designed to achieve proof of concept, if possible, in the form of efficacy in an animal model using an early lead compound
  • Engage key opinion leaders with industry expertise for project mentoring
  • Evaluate success metrics and alignment against milestones
  • Get guidance from advisory board of biopharma executives on commercial roadmap
  • Build commercial and scientific arms of the program enabling market translation
  • Source additional funding opportunities to support future development paths
  • Commercial outreach and business development
  • Develop external partnerships and opportunities
  • Strategically advance therapeutic programs toward commercialization

Let’s create the next breakthrough together.

Get Started
A group of researchers and medical staff standing in a lab

Our Portfolio

Developing therapeutic solutions with an early-stage pipeline focused on novel target discovery, target validation, and platform technologies for unmet patient needs.

Portfolio Brands

READDI is a biotechnology company working in the public interest to create medicines for the next viral pandemic. The world didn’t know what SARS-CoV-2 was before COVID-19 emerged. No one knows which specific viral threat will come next. READDI’s solution is to develop small molecule antivirals that work broadly against all viruses in the highest-risk virus families.

The UNC Drug Discovery Initiative takes drug discovery and development at UNC further than ever before, offering health science researchers additional tools to identify and screen targets, and help to advance therapies to patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration awarded $50M to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University to establish the Research Triangle Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation. The center will also involve collaborations with North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University, a leading historically black university.



Therapeutics Accelerator Initiatives

Active Projects
Oncology Modality Target ID / Screening Lead Identification Lead Optimization Pre-Clinical Phase 1 License / Spinout
Biologic Current
Small Molecule Completed Completed Current
Active Projects
Neuroscience Modality Target ID / Screening Lead Identification Lead Optimization Pre-Clinical Phase 1 License / Spinout
Small Molecule Current
Small Molecule Completed Current
Active Projects
Other Modality Target ID / Screening Lead Identification Lead Optimization Pre-Clinical Phase 1 License / Spinout
Biologic (peptide) Completed Completed Current
Biologic (peptide) Completed Completed Current
Biologic (Bispecific antibody) Completed Completed Completed Current
DNA close-up

HLA-E Targeted Immunotherapies

Phase: Target ID / Screening

  • Targeting antigens expressed on HLA-E to develop transgenic cellular therapeutics that are tumor specific with less off target toxicity
  • Relevant to large fraction of patients
    affected by the lymphomas being targeted
An illustration of an IL-13, a cytokine that plays a central regulator role in IgE synthesis

Multiple Myeloma Inhibitors

Phase: Lead Optimization

Newly developed ligands against a novel target recently identified as a crucial mediator of tumorigenicity in multiple myeloma

Neuronal network with electrical activity of neuron cells 3D rendering illustration

Identifying Novel Targets for Opioid Addiction

Phase: Target ID / Screening

  • Leveraging RNA sequencing technologies to identify opioid-sensitive neurons in the brain
  • Discovery and characterization of drug targets for the development of innovative treatments
Aquaporin, an integral membrane protein molecule

Novel Treatment for CNS Injury

Phase: Lead Identification

Novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of CNS edema caused by stroke or traumatic injury via inhibition of aquaporin-4 localization

Technology Platforms
Brianna Vickerman looking through a microscope in a lab

Light Activated Therapeutics

Phase: Technology Development

  • Proprietary chemistry allows for light-directed drug delivery for lower total dose/higher local dose and minimize systemic tox 
  • POC in thrombolytics, expansion into oncology; local delivery of systemically toxic drugs 
  • Expansion to other delivery vehicles such as liposomes
3D illustration of multicolored immunoglobulin protein structures attached to receptor

Pro-LEAP2 Therapeutic for Obesity

Phase: Lead Optimization

Developing a pro-LEAP2 therapeutic through protein engineering and directed molecular evolution, with the goal of increasing its relative levels and/or activity. This analog would be able to decrease Ghrelin-mediated signaling represents an attractive novel mechanism for obesity therapeutic intervention.

Human lungs laser surgery operation low poly

Thy-1 Mimetic Antifibrotic Therapy for IPF

Phase: Lead Optimization

  • New peptide-based approach to reverse lung fibrosis and will identify and validate a chemical lead to test for clinical use
  • Targeting Thy1, a GPI-anchored glycoprotein that modulates cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions regulating cell adhesion, migration, and survival
3D illustration of a monoclonal antibody (mAb or moAb)

Preventing Disease Flare in Lupus via Lysosome Restoration

Phase: Pre-Clinical

  • Uses a bispecific antibody that restores endo-lysosome function in human disease 
  • Reduces signal transduction from activating FcγRI and/or FcγRIIa (human only) by co-localization with inhibitory FcγRIIb

We value your privacy.

This website collects cookies to deliver a better user experience. By clicking “Accept”, you consent to our use of cookies.