Operations for the Research Triangle Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI) will officially begin this September through a grant awarded by the Food and Drug Administration.
The grant will provide up to $50 million in funds to the Triangle CERSI.
A collaboration between the FDA and several North Carolina universities, the Triangle CERSI is designed to investigate questions regarding the treatment and detection of diseases through drugs and devices.
Along with UNC, researchers from Duke University, N.C. State University and N.C. Central University will be affiliated with the new center.
Paul Watkins, a professor at UNC's Eshelman School of Pharmacy, was one of four principal investigators who assembled the initial application for the center. Watkins said the grant recognizes the Research Triangle as a leading area for scientific expertise, calling the new Triangle CERSI a “one-stop shop” for the FDA.
In contrast to other organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health, which are primarily focused on biomedical research, the CERSI is designed to answer research requests from the FDA.
“It does shed a very favorable light on the quality of the scientists and what they’re doing in the Triangle area,” Watkins said. “I think it will be helpful in both recruitment and retention of the top faculty, but I also think it’s contributing to the increased momentum sitting in the Triangle nowadays, the renaissance of the (Research Triangle Park), and this is going to help that, certainly on a national image level, but also having these kinds of direct connections to the FDA.”
The Triangle center is the newest CERSI to be founded by the FDA, and joins other national locations at universities such as the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.
While the Triangle CERSI will largely be a virtual center due to having multiple institutions, facilities for in-person gatherings will be provided courtesy of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a non-profit medical research organization.