Article Title Issue

University researchers target projects to meet industry needs

Charlotte Research Institute uses its strengths in eBusiness technology,
precision metrology, life sciences and optoelectronics to boost the region.

Frank Torti

In May, Torti, 60, departed Winston-Salem and his job as director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center for the Washington, D.C., suburbs to take up a new position at the FDA. An experienced clinical researcher specializing in urologic oncology, he will oversee research efforts and launch a fellowship program created, like his job, by the FDA Amendments Act of 2007.

Martin Posey

Martin Posey, chairman of the Department of Biology and Marine Biology at UNC Wilmington, is among a handful of scientists working to restore the Tar Heel oyster population, estimated to be 5% to 10% of what it was in the early 1900s.

Oliver Smithies

The call came early in the morning — 4:45, to be exact — but for Oliver Smithies, it wasn’t a minute too soon. For years, colleagues had told the UNC professor he was up for the Nobel Prize in medicine for his ground-breaking research in genetics, but as the years went by with no word from Sweden, he learned to ignore the rumors. When the call finally came last October, it was “a feeling of relief as much as anything else. A feeling of, well, that’s good. That’s finished.”

Stan Eskridge

When Stan Eskridge wanted to help Tom Fischer make an inexpensive bandage that quickly stops bleeding, he turned to his connections. “You can’t be a North Carolina native and not know somebody in the textile industry,” Eskridge, 65, says. His friends helped find the materials to develop Stasilon, a bandage woven from bamboo yarn and glass filament, approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September.

Biotechnology wants a lead role

After years of preparing a work force and other infrastructure, the industry is ready to take a star turn in the state's economy.

Changing prescriptions

It’s the way Moose Drug Co. does business that has changed, radically in some ways. “When Mrs. Jones comes to us today, she’s not just getting a bottle of pills,” says Joe Moose, 43, who with his older brother owns the company. “She’s getting time with Whit and time with me. She’s getting help in order to get the most from her prescriptions. We’re selling health care.”

Tipping point - Life Sciences

Charles Hamner retired in 2002 after 14 years as the CEO of the nonprofit North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park. A biochemist and veterinarian, he helped the state’s biotech industry grow into one of the nation’s top five, nearly tripling the number of companies. During his tenure, the center invested more than $50 million in the state’s universities, provided seed money to 62 startups and helped recruit more than a dozen companies.


Old & in the sway

Even in the South, where the mythological is never very far from the real, the memory of the feudal county boss is but a scant echo of an earlier time. Ours is a modern society now, with all the trappings of democracy, economic equality and self-determination. We are the lords of our own lives, in a way that our forebears never were. What to make, then, of the influence and power two elderly men have wielded over a single suburban county in North Carolina?

Christy Shaffer

Christy Shaffer can thank the board for knowing her better than she knew herself. With products on the market and a rich pipeline, Inspire Pharmaceuticals is one of the few true successes of the Triangle biotech scene. But without the board’s trickery, she never would’ve become its boss.

Economic outlook

If you want to start a high-tech or science-heavy business in the South, there’s Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and everyone else, says Andrew Holton, assistant director for research at The Program on Public Life at UNC Chapel Hill. Those states lead the pack, often by wide margins, in most of the conventional indicators of innovation and risk-taking. Holton led a study of entrepreneurial climates in 12 Southern states.


Turner Johnson is the bravest, toughest kid I know. The son of our design/production director, he was born 12 years ago this month with a benign tumor that tethered his spinal cord to the base of his backbone. When he was 3 months old, surgeons cut it loose but couldn’t remove the growth, a glob of fatty tissue entwining itself around major nerves.

He handles liquid assets

Pinehurst native Johnny Foster fell in love with the sea at an early age. Inspired by things he read and the exploits of marine researcher and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, he got hooked on aquaculture, the cultivation of water plants and animals, when he was about 10. “I thought that would be a neat way to make a living, to be around salt water and on the water and scuba diving all the time.”

Kay Wagoner

In the 14 years since starting Icagen, Kay Wagoner, 58, has seen more ups and downs than Keith Richards’ blood-alcohol level.

Maybe it will make new code medicines

What does writing code have to do with the genetic code? Maybe nothing, but that’s not the reason Red Hat Inc. is opening an office at the state’s newest biotechnology hot spot.

Profit doesn't heal this drug developer

The day Trimeris Inc. announced it was profitable should have been a happy one. But two other announcements that same day left analysts wondering whether the 14-year-old Morrisville drug developer has much of a future.

The wonderer

Pilot Therapeutics’ odyssey leads a scientist to discover there’s more — and less — to business than he thought.

Investments inject new life into sector

When Intersouth Partners sought investors early last year, the Durham venture-capital firm didn't have to look hard. Intersouth closed its fund in May with $275 million, the most it has ever raised. "Venture fundraising has been on a tear," spokeswoman Suzanne Cantando says.

Holly Springs gets stuck by incentives

Maybe Holly Springs should hold a really big bake sale. But the town would have to sell a lot of cookies, brownies and cakes to make up the $11.8 million gap between what it has promised to spend on Swiss drug maker Novartis to land a vaccine plant and what it has on hand.

Heavy industry

There’s no dearth of girth. But rather than expand, Durham’s Rice Diet and its brethren watch their wait.