Health and Medicine

Pinnacle Hill announces first project agreement

An alliance between UNC-Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management Company intends to advance Carolina innovations toward a possible new treatment against a devastating cancer.

Lindsey James

Pinnacle Hill, the research and development partnership between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Deerfield Management Company, an investment management firm, recently announced its first project agreement to advance the preclinical development of new medicines.

Pinnacle Hill will support a project of Lindsey James, an assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry. Her work focuses on multiple myeloma, a devastating cancer that develops in bone marrow.

James and her research team are interested in epigenetic abnormalities that lead to cancer and are working to apply medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, and cancer biology approaches to discover potential therapeutic agents. Through this first project, Pinnacle Hill will devote targeted resources to advancing discoveries which have great therapeutic potential for patients with the disease.

“There’s no doubt this initial agreement from Pinnacle Hill will accelerate Dr. James’ life-changing work,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Pinnacle Hill Steering Committee Member Terry Magnuson. “The project is a testament to the power of the partnership between Deerfield and UNC-Chapel Hill.”

Launched in October 2018, Pinnacle Hill was established with a $65 million funding commitment from Deerfield to accelerate the development and translation of these biomedical and life-science innovations to address the significant unmet medical needs.

Pinnacle Hill focuses on drug research projects that are approved and overseen 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. Carolina members of the joint committee are:

  • Terry Magnuson, UNC-Chapel Hill’s vice chancellor for research and Kay M. & Van L. Weatherspoon Eminent Distinguished Professor of genetics
  • Blossom Damania, the Boshamer Distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology and vice dean for research in the UNC School of Medicine
  • John Bamforth, director, Eshelman Institute for Innovation

“The goal of our alliance with UNC-Chapel Hill is to identify and advance the most important discoveries that could improve the lives of patients and their families,” said James E. Flynn, Managing Partner at Deerfield. “Professor James’ work exemplifies this and is outstanding. We are delighted to advance her novel research and are optimistic about continued progress in Dr. James’ laboratory as well as other milestones to come at Carolina. They have been a great partner.”