Fast tracking rare disease research

“We have long worked for an open-science, scalable approach to build research tools and support the necessary talent to accelerate solutions to ameliorate suffering in the millions of individuals affected by rare diseases.” –Bob Blouin, Dean, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Science has cracked the human genome, a monumental breakthrough in human existence to be sure. But translating that knowledge into new medicines has been extremely slow. This is especially true for rare diseases, which lack visibility, resources and research expertise.

UNC Catalyst, a new endeavor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, will create and freely share the tools and knowledge missing in the study of many rare conditions.

For the people who suffer from one of the nearly 7,000 rare and orphaned diseases recognized by the National Institutes of Health, UNC Catalyst could mean the first step in new treatments that could make for a better life.

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UNC Catalyst was launched with a $2 million grant from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s Eshelman Institute for Innovation.

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

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