Supporting Drug Discovery as an Economic Engine

  • Prosperity
  • 2014

The so-called Research Triangle in North Carolina is one of the nation’s centers for biological research, and pharmaceutical innovation in particular. And Fred Eshelman is one of the whirlwinds at the center of North Carolina pharma, having founded and built to huge success there two different drug-research firms. A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy, Eshelman started donating to his alma mater in 2003 and gave a total of $38 million over a decade.

In 2014 Eshelman noted that “in the past ten years the school has generated more than 130 patents and created 15 spinoff companies. Their success demonstrates the power and the future of drug discovery in academia, and it’s a future that I am eager and proud to support.” With that, he announced a new mega-gift: $100 million to create within the pharmacy school a center explicitly focused on creating valuable drug products that will “fuel innovation, create jobs, and spur economic development in the state.”

In addition to bulking up his region’s economic productivity, the Eshelman donations helped build the UNC School of Pharmacy into one of the largest and highest rated educational facilities of its sort, with about 750 students enrolled in one of its degree programs at any given time.