Lindsey Ingerman James ’10 (Ph.D.) was on the front lawn of Beard Hall with other Carolina professors when the largest gift from an individual in University history, and the largest ever made to a U.S. pharmacy school, was announced.
“It was clear that this gift was unprecedented, that we as a school of pharmacy were extremely fortunate and that the Eshelman Institute for Innovation would be quite impactful,” James says. “But what I didn’t grasp at the time was how this gift was going to directly impact my research program and career.”
It wasn’t until 2018, when James received her first EII grant, that she understood.
“The EII grants can be really critical in kick-starting the careers of young faculty like myself,” she says. “The outreach efforts at EII are quite extensive, and these opportunities presented by EII help to progress our science in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.”
James is part of a team that studies a group of proteins that help to regulate genes without changing DNA sequences. Such phenomena, known as epigenetics, can help to explain certain differences between identical twins who have the same DNA.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that epigenetic changes can be responsible for various disease states,” she says. “One of our primary goals is to validate new epigenetic targets for drug discovery. … if we can demonstrate that blocking a specific protein function has a potential therapeutic benefit, I’d consider that a huge success.”
James feels the collaborative culture at Carolina and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy distinguishes the university while making research programs more productive.
“Most of the research projects I work on are a collaboration with at least one other faculty member. It’s what makes them so successful,” she says. “Most of today’s research is multidisciplinary and one lab cannot do it all, so embracing a collaborative culture is critical.”
The Eshelman Institute for Innovation is made possible by a $100 million gift from Fred Eshelman to accelerate the creation and development of ideas leading to discoveries and transformative changes in education, research and health care. To learn more about the EII’s impact, visit unceii.org/impact.