Pharmacy school gets $100 million gift for research


Pharmaceutical entrepreneur Fred Eshelman has donated $100 million to the UNC-Chapel Hill pharmacy school named in his honor.

Pharmaceutical entrepreneur Fred Eshelman has donated $100 million to the UNC-Chapel Hill pharmacy school named in his honor.

The donation, the largest gift from an individual in the school’s history and the largest ever to a pharmacy school in the United States, will establish the Eshelman Institute for Innovation for research and innovation. Click here to see the announcement.

“We’re setting up this institute where we really hope to supercharge the ability of faculty and graduate students and others to really get a leg up on their research ideas, get some form around them, push them forward with certain milestones,” Eshelman told the News & Observer

Eshelman, who earned his undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1972, had previously donated $38 million to the school. He founded Pharmaceutical Product Development, a 13,000-employee company that performs contract research for pharmaceutical companies. He was also founding chairman of Furiex Pharmaceuticals, a drug development company.

“There could be nothing more exciting to a chancellor than to think that we have the resources here to take the talent of these people and really put it to use,” said Carol Folt, chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill. “I think it’s fantastic for our state, too, because one of the things we most want to do is see them take this kind of discovery and creativity they have and see it drive all the way out into the community.”

The money will fund potentially high-reward research that could spur economic development and jobs throughout the region. “My goal is for North Carolina to become the third vertex of what we call the nation’s Innovation Triangle,” Gov. Pat McCrory said. “We are poised to compete nationally and internationally.”

Eshelman’s past donations have supported the school’s drug-discovery center, pharmacy education, pharmacy practice, research and training, cancer research, scholarships, fellowships, and faculty development. He has also funded partnership with community pharmacists, residency programs, and there are five Eshelman Distinguished Professors at the school.


The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy is second among the nation’s pharmacy schools in total federal research funding and specifically in National Institutes of Health funding. Its doctor of pharmacy program also ranked number two in the 2013 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools by U.S. News & World Report. In the past 10 years, the school has generated more than 130 patents and created 15 spin-off companies.

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy is known for innovation and has produced 19 spin-off companies including Meryx, which develops treatments for cancer and other diseases by inhibiting the action of an enzyme called Mer tyrosine.

The school has 650 students in its professional degree program, more than 100 in its graduate program, and has more than 100 full-time faculty members. The school ranks second among the nation’s pharmacy schools in total federal research funding.

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