In what could give a major boost to research and development as well as commercialization of new drugs and medical technology in North Carolina, UNC Chapel Hill is teaming up with The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences.

Through a partnership disclosed Friday, several schools at UNC will utilize resources provided by The Hamner in an attempt to develop more products and bring them to the private sector.

Turning discoveries made by researchers into commercial products through technology transfer has long been a difficult challenge for universities. Part of the mission of The Hamner is to give a boost to those tech transfer efforts.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but both organizations are contributing resources, said Rick Williams, the recently hired chief business officer at The Hamner.

“Both UNC and The Hamner are investing considerable time and resources in this new collaboration,” said Williams, a veteran of the biopharmaceutical industry who left the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to join the Hamner. He is tasked with leading the organization’s tech transfer efforts and creating what the Hamner calls a translational medicine “accelerator.

“The amount of funding will be determined as specific collaborative projects are established,” Williams added.

Should a product be developed and commercialized, both organizations will benefit, Williams added.

“UNC and The Hamner will support the other partner’s research and tech transfer/commercialization efforts,” he said. “There will be co-ownership of any technologies that are co-developed between the two organizations.”

UNC and The Hamner plan to pursue therapies for cancer and respiratory diseases with an emphasis on such areas as pharmacogenomics, genomic medicine and nanomedicine.

“UNC is interested in capitalizing on The Hamner’s expertise and resources in translational research, preclinical drug safety, Good Laboratory Practice standards for drug studies, and business development as it advances its own initiatives in drug discovery/development,” Williams explained.

UNC programs involved include the Kenan-Flagler Business School, the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery in the Schools of Pharmacy, Medicine and College of Arts and Sciences, and the University’s Office of Technology Development.

“At Carolina, we are committed to making sure that the discoveries of basic science benefit people,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser. “This partnership with the Hamner Institutes will help us accelerate the development of valuable new drugs, treatments and technologies that improve health and also yield new economic opportunities for North Carolinians.”

The collaborative effort also will include pursuit of grants from the private and public sectors.

“We are extremely pleased and honored to be joining with one of the world’s leading research universities to create a unique integrative model for translating basic science research into new medicines,” said William Greenlee, the Hamner’s chief executive officer.

“This partnership also will foster new alliances between academe, industry and government regulatory agencies to advance public health research, education and scientifically informed policies,” he added.