Five North Carolina companies are each gaining a research scientist – at no cost – as part of the new “Industrial Fellowships Program” funded by the .

The intent of the program is to help research scientists transition to the private sector. At the same time, N.C.-based companies receive a boost in intellectual power.

Affinergy, Tengion, BASF Plant Science, Targacept and Aldagen were selected through a competitive process. The Biotech Center and each company then screened the fellowship candidates.

The Biotech Center will pay the fellows’ salaries and benefits for two years.

“It’s hard for scientists to go from academic research to industry research,” said Shobha Parthasarathi, technology development director at the Biotech Center and director of the program. “We wanted to create a way to help with that transition. This program will keep in-state more of the scientists who come through North Carolina universities for their training.”

The fellows are:

  • David Culp, a Ph.D. and a research associate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will work with Affinergy. He will work as part of a team that is developing antibiotics that can be used to coat medical devices.
  • Dawn Delo, who studied stem-cell therapies at Wake Forest University’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine, will work with Tengion. She will try to coax cells isolated from specific tissues to regenerate entire organs.
  • David Hubert, a UNC-CH doctoral student, joins BASF Plant Science and will focus on strengthening crops against drought and infection.
  • Joann O’Connor, who earned a doctorate at Emory University, is a fellow at Targacept and will focus on addictive effects of nicotine.
  • Liisa Smith, who studied at UNC-CH and Duke, will work on cell therapy at Aldagen.