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This past fall, the Eshelman Institute for Innovation (EII) completed its 5th Annual Graduate Student and Postdoc Award cycle. Each year, the EII awards student/postdoc projects up to $25,000 in funding to advance novel and impactful research. For 2021, the EII is pleased to announce that we have awarded funding to four student/postdoc projects [two from CICBDD].

Please join the EII in congratulating our award recipients, as we look forward to seeing what the students will accomplish! The EII would also like to thank their expert reviewers for their support during this grant cycle.

To learn more information about our newly selected Student/Postdoc Project recipients, please visit our website or email us at

The Eshelman Institute for Innovation

The Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery Congratulates our Recipients

Using Machine Learning to Guide Novel DNA-Encoded Library Hit Discovery and Next Generation Library Production

Small molecule hit discovery via high-throughput screening (HTS) can be a tedious and expensive process. The DNA-Encoded Library (DEL) technology has made breakthroughs by increasing cost/time efficiency of HTS. However, comprehensive data analysis of DEL screens remains a technological hindrance. This research aims to apply machine learning to DEL technology for more efficient data analysis and successful novel hit compound discovery. Hit compounds and machine learning will also be applied for designing next generation DELs.

Devan Shell, PhD Candidate, Pearce Lab
Devan Shell, PhD Candidate

“Devan has very impressively taken the reigns for our DNA-encoded library effort and his development of machine learning methods for data analysis and library design is very promising. His initiative and independence with these methods are clearly very deserving of this recognition via the EII award.”

Kenneth Pearce, PhD
Research Professor and Director, Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery,
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy


Development of Novel Small Molecule Antagonists of Methyl Lysine Reader Proteins

Methyl lysine reader proteins have an emerging role in multiple malignancies. We are developing novel small molecule antagonists of methyl lysine readers to better understand their role in a variety of cancers. We are focused on improving the pharmacokinetic properties of our ligands to assess the therapeutic potential of methyl lysine reader antagonism in vivo, with the goal of achieving a preclinical lead ligand.

Jarod Waybright, PhD, James/Frye Lab
Jarod Waybright, PhD

“Jarod’s hard work and independence continues to propel this exciting project to the next level, and I have no doubt that he will use this award to advance his science in a meaningful way. Jarod is a fantastic scientist and I can’t wait to see where he takes this project next!”

Lindsey Ingerman James, PhD
Assistant Professor, Chemical Biology Medicinal Chemistry
Director, Chemical Biology, Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery

~each award of $24,000 is for one year


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