Skip to Content

College of Pharmacy

  • glass beakers and test tubes

Funding boosts research initiatives for COP

Research is an integral part of the work being done at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, and the number of research projects continues to grow as the college more than doubled funding received between 2020 and 2021, according to the Funded Research Grants Institutional Rankings report from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. Several researchers in the department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences have recently received grants for their work in areas such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer and HIV.

Professor Peisheng Xu received a National Cancer Institute R01 grant totaling $1.69 million for his work in ovarian cancer treatment. His research will focus on developing a polymer-metal nano-complex for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer by selectively killing cancer cells, including drug-resistant cells, while sparing normal cells. The success of validating this concept will pave the road to take it forward to clinical trial and lead to the control of ovarian cancer.

In a collaborative effort with researchers from the Arnold School of Public Health and the School of Medicine Columbia, Lorne Hofseth, interim associate dean for research, will serve as co-investigator for a $5.8 million U01 grant from the NCI, focused on preventing colorectal cancer. Hofseth and Minou Khazan, clinical assistant professor, are also the recipients of a National Institutes of Health supplement award for $91,228. This award, called a “re-entry supplement,” will support Khazan as she works with Hofseth and his R01 project “Harnessing the power of p53 with Panaxynol from American Ginseng to suppress colitis and prevent colon cancer.”

“This is a relatively new NIH funding mechanism, and to my knowledge is the first such award in COP,” according to Michael Wyatt, chair of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences. “We are excited about the mentoring and training opportunities this will provide Dr. Khazan.”

Professor Jun Zhu continues his work around HIV with two NIH R01 grants of more than $2.5 million. Drug abuse and HIV infection are co-morbidities. Zhu’s research seeks to better understand and develop treatments to stop the neurological damage that is caused by HIV and is worsened by drugs of abuse.

Max Chen, research assistant professor, received a new Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant for $400,000 for his project entitled “Preventing in vivo resistance to PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors through Mediator kinase inhibition, and Associate Professor Eugenia Broude will serve as principal investigator of a sub-award to conduct part of the research. 

Two of the college’s newest faculty members bring valuable research with them and grants totaling nearly $1.5 million. Chase Francis, assistant professor, received a $734,503 NIH/National Institute of Mental Health R00 grant to identify brain connections, molecules and receptors that govern response to stressful stimuli. Alessandra Porcu, assistant professor, received a $746,757 NIH/National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health R00 grant to study the effects of artificial light exposure during adolescence and implications for anxiety and well-being.

Wyatt says the increase in research at the college is representative of years of hard and consistent work and an upward building of momentum. 

“In science, one must be very diligent and thorough when planning and carrying out science; yet one must also be able to very rapidly respond to rapidly changing circumstances that demand we adapt and change our thinking,” he says. “Beyond the numbers, the research accomplished by the funding impacts lives and helps improve the world around us.”

Topics: Research, Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.