Four scientists at three state universities will receive $250,000 each in grants from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the goal being to help advance their research toward federal grant applications.

Two researchers at N.C. State and others at East Carolina and UNC-Wilmington will receive the funds.

The so-called Multidisciplinary Research Grants require collaboration among scientists and researchers across three fields of work.

Receiving the grants, which program descriptions provided by the Biotech Center, are:

• Qun Lu, Ph.D., at ECU, to study the potential effectiveness of using a certain protein in urine as a non-invasive test for prostate cancer.

• Ruben Carbonell, Ph.D., at NCSU, for development of a novel fibrous membrane containing a unique antibody-detection molecule that could increase the speed and lower the cost of producing certain drugs.

• Melissa Ashwell, Ph.D., at NCSU, to study the differences in drug metabolism among various breeds of pigs, to avoid over- or under-medication that can lead to illness in the animals, drug resistance and unnecessary costs. The research could help reduce drug residues in food and contribute to development of more-effective drugs.

• Andrea Bourdelais, Ph.D., of UNCW, to tackle a major hurdle in the development of new drug therapies – getting them inside cells and to their site of action. She’s developing substances called ladder frame polyethers to act as drug carriers with improved ability to enter cells.

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