Jim Hagood, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, and Ronit Freeman, PhD, Associate Professor in Applied Physical Science, have been awarded a grant by Eshelman Institute for Innovation to pursue research in lung fibrosis.
The Eshelman Institute for Innovation recently awarded Drs. Freeman and Hagood a $350,000 opportunistic grant to pursue research in lung fibrosis.
The award will fund the development of a new peptide-based approach to reverse lung fibrosis and will identify and validate a chemical lead to test for clinical use. Current treatments slow the progression of fibrosis, but do not restore damaged lung tissue.
The project represents a synergistic cross-campus collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences (Freeman, Applied Physical Sciences) and the School of Medicine (Hagood, Pediatrics). Dr. Freeman and Dr. Hagood met shortly after they joined UNC in 2018. They both highly value team science and believe that the gap between biomedical research and unmet clinical needs can only be addressed by bringing together cross-disciplinary researchers committed to translational bench-to-bedside medicine. They have brought their teams together that consist of chemists, biologists, biomedical engineers and clinicians, to meet weekly and find unique interfaces that they can jointly focus on. These stimulating brainstorming sessions led to the development of a unique and creative peptidomimetic approach to reverse lung fibrosis. Dr. Hagood’s lab identified fibrosis-reversing properties of a soluble form of Thy-1, and Dr. Freeman’s lab designed bioactive peptides to mimic those activities, and act as antifibrotic therapeutic agents. The work received initial support from the NCTRaCS FastTraCS program.