Skip to Content

Former GlaxoSmithKline Executive to Lead UNC Drug Discovery Center

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., Oct. 25, 2007--Stephen Frye, PhD, former worldwide head of discovery medicinal chemistry at GlaxoSmithKline, will lead the new Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“The days when large pharmaceutical companies could be solely relied on to effectively translate basic research into new medicines are passing,” Frye said. “Academic science will have to rise to the challenge.”

Frye is co-inventor of GSK’s Avodart, a drug used to shrink an enlarged prostate gland that is also under study for prevention of prostate cancer. Prior to his most recent role at GSK, his department in RTP also discovered a drug candidate that became Tykerb, a breast-cancer drug approved by the FDA in March.

The center is a joint initiative supported by the UNC School of Pharmacy, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the UNC School of Medicine, and the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. Frye is a research professor in the School of Pharmacy.

The School of Pharmacy had been talking about forming a drug-discovery center for more than three years, said Dean Bob Blouin.

“We envisioned an organization very rooted in our academic culture but also working to extend our discoveries out into the world,” he said. “But talking about doing it is totally different from bringing in a person who has done it. Stephen Frye is that person. He is going to create something unique and novel here at UNC.”

Frye said he plans to start with two teams of five scientists each that will examine biological drug targets identified by UNC researchers. The teams will work to develop molecules that interact with those targets, the first step in developing a drug. The center will definitely focus some of its efforts on cancer research because there is such a huge need and significant expertise at UNC in oncology, he said.

Shelton Earp, MD, director of the Lineberger center, said he was excited about Frye coming to UNC and said that the new center would serve as a bridge between basic science and clinical practice.

"UNC's cancer researchers work as a team and work brilliantly on both ends of the spectrum ferreting out the molecular causes of cancer and studying our patients' responses to novel therapies,” he said.

“Stephen Frye provides the vital middle piece,” Earp said. “He brings a scientific skill set that fills a research gap that exists at virtually all university cancer programs. His world-class expertise will enable his team to turn Cancer Center discoveries into useful chemical probes and eventually into the drugs of tomorrow.”


UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
As part of the UNC system, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is the public comprehensive cancer center for the state and the people of North Carolina. The center’s mission is to reduce cancer occurrence and death in North Carolina and the nation through research, treatment, training and outreach. Center faculty treat cancer patients, conduct research into the causes of cancer, develop and direct statewide programs in cancer prevention and train future physicians, nurses, scientists, and public health professionals. In 2009 UNC Health Care will open the new North Carolina Cancer Hospital, the clinical home of UNC Lineberger. For more information visit <> .

UNC Health Care System
The UNC Health Care System is a not-for-profit integrated health care system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill. It exists to further the teaching mission of the University of North Carolina and to provide state-of-the-art patient care. UNC Health Care is comprised of UNC Hospitals, ranked consistently among the best medical centers in the country; the UNC School of Medicine, a nationally eminent research institution; community practices; home health and hospice services in seven central North Carolina counties; and Rex Healthcare and its provider network in Wake County. For more information visit <> .



Posted: October 2007