Carolina and Deerfield Management announce the creation of Pinnacle Hill to accelerate the discovery of new medicines

Deerfield Management commits up to $65 million to support the development of novel therapeutics at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management have entered into a partnership to create Pinnacle Hill, LLC., a company seeking to discover new medicines to address the significant unmet medical needs of our times. 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.

“This is a very exciting new partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “In creating a new company, Pinnacle Hill, we are bringing together the best of academia and industry to accelerate innovative drug research. 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 UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield leadership teams. Each selected project has the potential to receive funding to support investigational new drug enabling studies. The inaugural UNC-Chapel Hill members of the joint committee will be:

  • Terry Magnuson, Carolina’s vice chancellor for research and the Sarah Graham Kenan professor of genetics
  • Dhiren Thakker, distinguished professor, interim dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and interim director of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation
  • Blossom Damania, the Boshamer Distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology and vice dean for research in the UNC School of Medicine

“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,” said James Flynn, managing partner of Deerfield Management. “This will play a critical role in our collaboration to help solve problems, discover new technologies and hopefully save lives.”

Projects selected for support through Pinnacle Hill will receive a complete development plan with funding to support further research across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. UNC-Chapel Hill’s 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 UNC-Chapel Hill.

“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 of UNC-Chapel Hill. “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.”

Carolina has a rich tradition as a public research university, conducts more than $1 billion in research activity annually and is the eleventh 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.