Rising to the Challenge

Heidi M. Mansour, left, assistant professor of pharmaceutics and drug delivery, works in her lab with Priya Muralidharan, a pharmacy graduate student.

Heidi M. Mansour is one of 191 donors who has answered the Skaggs Challenge, a $25 million campaign to transform the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy’s Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center into a hub for innovative research and education.

Mansour, an assistant professor in the college, has a distinct vision for the future: bringing life-saving drugs to market using the center’s cutting-edge facilities and classrooms.

The Skaggs Challenge will play a vital role in achieving this vision. Once completed, Mansour will be teaching in spaces designed to foster collaborative learning. It will dramatically accelerate her work with UA colleagues to develop targeted and controlled-released drugs for diseases like respiratory distress syndrome, asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, congenital heart disease, lung fibrosis, neuroendocrine cancers and neuroscience diseases.

Mansour was among the first to make a gift to expand and renovate the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center. “It’s a no-brainer for me. I want to invest in moving us forward,” she says.

Mansour's research has been funded through major grants from several government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, as well as Tech Launch Arizona, BIO5 Institute and pharmaceutical companies. She has one of a few academic labs in the nation to design advanced inhaled formulations and inhaler devices for lung diseases. Some of these are in clinical trials, and others are close to reaching this stage.

With enhanced infrastructure, Mansour believes she and her fellow pharmacy faculty, working in collaboration with other UA researchers, can put superior medicines into pharmacies.

“To file with the FDA, you have to formulate and test on a bigger scale. This will give us that space. And you have to partner with companies. When they see an academic lab with cutting-edge facilities, it really helps them come on board,” she says.

The Skaggs Challenge

The UA College of Pharmacy launched the Skaggs Challenge to expand and renovate Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center, the College of Pharmacy’s first building on the health sciences campus. It was built with the support of Utah businessman L.S. “Sam” Skaggs 35 years ago.

Now The ALSAM Foundation, established by the Skaggs family, has re-invested in the building with the $10 million challenge grant, the largest commitment in the college’s history, to renovate the space and expand it from 12,000 square feet to 31,500 square feet.

Donors are being asked to commit the remaining $2.2 million to the project, which will trigger fulfillment of the $10 million pledge from The ALSAM Foundation. The UA will also contribute $10 million.

Nearly $23 million has been raised through the challenge so far.

Learn more about the Skaggs Challenge | SUPPORT Skaggs now

Story originally published by Alumni Association.

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