Atrium Health

NCRC Focus of UNC Charlotte Life Sciences Conference

October 23, 2012
Phyllis Beaver
Marketing Director
North Carolina Research Campus


(NC Research Campus, Kannapolis, NC- October 23, 2012)- The North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, a 350-acre life science research center just north of Charlotte, is the focus of the eleventh annual UNC Charlotte Life Sciences Conference. The conference is being held on Thursday, October 25 from 11 am to 4:30 pm at the Barnhardt Student Activity Center on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) campus.

The conference agenda focuses on the research, tools, technology and commercialization at the NCRC and features campus scientists from UNCC, the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI), North Carolina State University (NCSU) Plants for Human Health Institute, UNC Greensboro (UNCG) Center for Translational Biomedical Research, UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute (NRI), Sensory Spectrum, General Mills, the Appalachian State  University (ASU) Human Performance Laboratory and Carolinas Healthcare System (CHS).

The universities and corporations located on the NCRC since the campus opened in 2008 have published groundbreaking discoveries that are collaboratively, advancing science, research and product development at the intersection of human health, nutrition and agriculture. The latest research findings include ginger as a treatment for anemia from chemotherapy and renal disease, bananas as an alternative to sports drinks, advancements in personalized medicine, the development of vegetables with taste, aroma and textures more appealing to consumers and the identification of the health benefits from the small molecule, bioactive components in fruits and vegetables.

“It’s an honor for the North Carolina Research Campus to be featured at the eleventh annual Charlotte Life Sciences Conference.  This year’s conference theme, ‘Where Innovation Begins,’ is at the core of the NCRC’s mission,” said NCRC Executive Director Michael J. Todd. “We have collocated in Kannapolis leading experts in nutrition, agriculture and human health with state of the art facilities and equipment staffed with a talented, motivated local work force.  Through collaborative research, our public and private partners are addressing key global issues as we begin our fifth year of operation.  The most exciting thing is that we’ve only just begun.”


Research: The Beginning

Researchers from eight schools in the University of North Carolina System have generated over $44 million in grant funds while Duke University has received an additional $1.8 million for research in partnership with the Cabarrus Health Alliance to improve patient care for those with diabetes. The research programs powered by this grant money will be the focus of Research: The Beginning, the first afternoon panel session at the UNCC conference. Benjamin D. Machon, business development with the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI), a non-profit contract research organization and the NCRC’s core laboratory, will moderate the session. NCRC panelists are:

• Wei Jia, PhD, co-director of the UNCG Center for Translational Biomedical Research, who is identifying new drug targets derived from a combination of modern metabolic analysis and plants used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to develop treatments for colorectal cancer.

Allan Brown, PhD, applied molecular geneticist and assistant professor at NCSU Plants for Human Health Institute, who led the mapping of the blueberry genome and is nutritionally enhancing varieties of broccoli and cabbage.

• Andrew Swick, PhD, associate professor and director of Obesity and Eating Disorders Research at UNC Chapel Hill NRI, who studies the relationship between the digestive system and the regulation of body weight and metabolism.


Tools and Technology

The NCRC is the home of one of the world’s largest nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers, the 950 MHz Bruker, as well as advanced analytical sciences, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics laboratories. Moderated by Steven Lommel, PhD, interim president of the DHMRI, the panel discussion NCRC Tools and Technology: Accelerating Innovation will delve into the state-of-the-art scientific tools and technology that underlie the NCRC’s research achievements. NCRC panelists are:

Cory Brouwer, PhD, director of the UNCC Bioinformatics Research Services Division.

Kevin Knagge, PhD, NMR lab manager for the DHMRI.

Anita McCauley, PhD, director of microscopy for the DHMRI and adjunct assistant professor of biology at Wake Forest University.

• Kelly Sheppard, UNC Chapel Hill NRI.


Commercialization: The Application of Research

The NCRC’s impact exceeds basic research and scientific instrumentation. The commercialization of research as new, functional food products is occurring regularly. One of the final sessions of the day, Commercialization: The Application of Research, will be moderated by John Cox, president and CEO of the Cabarrus Economic Development and Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce. Panelists will discuss how the NCRC is becoming bastion of product development that is providing consumers with scientifically-supported, healthy food products. Panelists are:

• Judy Heylmun, vice president of business development for the Spectrum Discovery Center of Sensory Spectrum, Inc.

• Eric Jackson, PhD, General Mills research scientist and site lead at the NCRC

David C. Neiman, DrPH, FACSM, director of the Appalachian State Human Performance Laboratory


Keynote Speaker

The NCRC is part of the larger health and life sciences sector in the Charlotte-region that includes Carolinas Healthcare System (CHS), an NCRC partner and the largest healthcare system in the Carolinas. CHS’ President of the Levine Cancer Institute, Derek Raghavan, MD, PhD, FACP, FRACP, FASCO, will be the conference keynote speaker addressing Cancer Therapy: From Rational Empiricism to Targeted Rationalism with Bursts of Insight. CHS is an anchor tenant in a 60,000 square-foot medical office building now under construction at the NCRC. The construction of the new medical office building follows the completion of the 65,000 square-foot Cabarrus Healthcare Alliance building at the NCRC earlier this year.


For more information about the North Carolina Research Campus, visit

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