UNC will receive $1.5 million during the next five years to conduct the study, said Michael Fried, principal investigator in the study.
UNC was chosen to participate in a study on a hepatitis C vaccine coordinated by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. UNC will act as a clinical site along with seven other universities.
"UNC is one of the major treatment centers for hepatitis C in the country," Fried said.
The purpose of the study is to determine if blacks are more resistant to hepatitis C treatment and, if so, what causes them to be more resistant.
Past studies indicated that blacks might be less responsive to treatment than whites, but these studies included a small number of blacks, Fried said.
"This trial should determine if the preliminary results are true," Fried said.
Patients who participate in the study will receive a new type of interferon, which naturally occurs in the body and fights infections, and an anti-viral medication, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
UNC will collaborate with the University of Maryland, University of Illinois, University of California-San Francisco, University of Michigan, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Columbia University and the University of Miami.
UNC researchers are now determining how to conduct the study.