$1 Million in North Carolina Biotechnology Center Grants Fund Basic Research  
1/4/2012 9:53:16 AM

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. Jan. 4, 2012 – The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has awarded $1 million in grants to university scientists pursuing improved identification of prostate cancer, developing new membranes and mechanisms for improved drug therapies, and using genetics to improve swine health policy.

Scientists at North Carolina State University, East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina Wilmington received the $250,000 Multidisciplinary Research Grants. Two of the grants went to NCSU.

The grant program is designed to support development of preliminary data for federal grant applications. The MRG requires North Carolina scientists in three fields to collaborate equally.

Funding approvals went to:

- Qun Lu, Ph.D., at ECU, to study the potential effectiveness of using a certain protein in urine as a non-invasive test for prostate cancer.

- Ruben Carbonell, Ph.D., at NCSU, for development of a novel fibrous membrane containing a unique antibody-detection molecule that could increase the speed and lower the cost of producing certain drugs.

- Melissa Ashwell, Ph.D., at NCSU, to study the differences in drug metabolism among various breeds of pigs, to avoid over- or under-medication that can lead to illness in the animals, drug resistance and unnecessary costs. The research could help reduce drug residues in food and contribute to development of more-effective drugs.

- Andrea Bourdelais, Ph.D., of UNCW, to tackle a major hurdle in the development of new drug therapies – getting them inside cells and to their site of action. She’s developing substances called ladder frame polyethers to act as drug carriers with improved ability to enter cells.

The Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business, education and strategic policy statewide.

Contact: Robin Deacle, vice president of corporate communications, at or 919-541-9366. Visit the Biotechnology Center's website at