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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Deerfield Management commits up to $64M for new drug research company

Terry Magnuson, vice chancellor for research, Dhiren Thakker of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and Blossom Damania of the School of Medicine are the inaugural University members of the joint committee that will direct Pinnacle Hill. 

 

Carolina and Deerfield Management have entered into a partnership to create Pinnacle Hill LLC., a company seeking to discover new medicines to address today’s significant unmet medical needs. Deerfield has committed $65 million of targeted funding and to provide drug development expertise in support of promising new drug research across a wide range of therapeutic areas.

The partnership will be launched formally at an Oct. 30 event on campus.

“This is a very exciting new partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management. In creating a new company, Pinnacle Hill, we are bringing together the best of academia and industry to accelerate innovative drug research,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “By investing in our faculty’s early stage research, this partnership advances our commitment to improving the health and well-being of people around the world.”

Research and development conducted at Pinnacle Hill will be supported by funding, expert drug development guidance, experienced project management oversight and business strategy. These efforts will serve to improve and accelerate the product development process and allow founding scientists to concentrate on their research.

Pinnacle Hill will focus on drug research projects that are approved and directed by a joint steering committee comprised of members from Carolina and Deerfield leadership teams. Each selected project has the potential to receive funding to support investigational new drug enabling studies. The inaugural University members of the joint committee will be:

“UNC-Chapel Hill’s world-class scientists, research centers and institutes, including the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, have enabled a culture of innovation with a focus on the patient and novel discoveries. This will play a critical role in our collaboration to help solve problems, discover new technologies and hopefully save lives,” stated James Flynn, managing partner of Deerfield Management.

Projects selected for support through Pinnacle Hill will receive a complete development plan with funding to support further research across the Carolina campus. The Eshelman School of Pharmacy and School of Medicine, as well as institutes like the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, have drug discovery teams and core resources to support the development of new therapies to treat a wide variety of unmet medical needs. Deerfield may make additional capital investments in successful projects. Profits from successful projects, if any, will be shared by Deerfield and the University.

“UNC-Chapel Hill is home to some of the world’s most innovative and life-changing research,” said Robert Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost. “The new partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management gives us an exciting opportunity to accelerate drug discovery research at the University and advance new therapies that have the potential to improve health in North Carolina and beyond.”

Oct. 12 marked the 225th anniversary of the University’s founding. Carolina conducts more than $1 billion in research activity annually and is the 11th largest U.S. university in research volume and annual expenditures. The collaboration between the University and Deerfield will provide crucial support to accelerate early-stage research that could improve human health worldwide.

The Pinnacle Hill launch event begins at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Carolina Club. Speakers will include Folt and Blouin from the University and managing partner James Flynn and partner Peter Steelman of Deerfield Management.