Funding Priority

UNC Institute for Convergent Science

Successful universities, both public and private, are engines for innovation - places where basic science meets technology to solve problems for the public good. The UNC Institute for Convergent Science will help Carolina lead in our service to the State and Nation by bringing together innovators from the worlds of science, engineering, art, humanities, design, and business.

Signature Initiatives


As a global public research university bound by 225 years of service to the greater good, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seeks daring solutions to the world’s most challenging problems. The UNC Institute for Convergent Science (ICS) is the next step in realizing those solutions.

Ranked 5th nationally for federal research, with $1.10 billion of sponsored research conducted annually, Carolina is prepared to lead the nation in the field of Convergent Science. As the embodiment of Carolina’s culture of low stone walls, the UNC Institute for Convergent Science will bring teams from the UNC College of Arts & Sciences together with researchers, students and scholars from health affairs and other related disciplines to discover new breakthroughs that can only be seen through a convergence of viewpoints. We will speed the translation of basic research into technological solutions for the betterment of all kind.

Interim Chancellor Kevin GuskiewiczInnovation is what makes us a powerhouse research university, and we want to be even stronger. The Institute for Convergent Science, one of our signature initiatives, is about increasing that collaboration and a cross-disciplinary approach to solving problems.
– Kevin Guskiewicz, Interim Chancellor

What is Convergent Science?

Convergent Science is a problem-centered approach to research that draws together innovators from a large span of disciplines to address real-world issues. These issues – such as water shortage and purification, energy storage and treatments for seemingly incurable diseases – cross disciplines and traditional methods of scientific problem solving.

By redefining the journey from idea to discovery to market, the Institute will enable research teams to focus on solving the problem at hand – collectively at one central hub – with the infrastructure, lab space and funding needed to drive breakthroughs.

What is the Innovation Framework?

The application of UNC’s Innovation Framework makes the Institute unique and will ensure our collective path to success. It is a novel process through which projects are carefully reviewed and refined until ready to proceed. With the guidance of our eminent innovation experts, NIMBLE projects — “New Invention: Make it Big or Leave Early” — will be subjected to a disciplined schedule and demonstrable milestones with the knowledge that early failure, and a return to the research commons, is as instructive as success. By employing the Innovation Framework the Institute will accelerate the translation of convergent ideas into technological solutions.

What will it take to move ICS forward?

The resources to match the scale of our ambitions. Our implementation plan features two distinct phases. The first phase focuses on hiring the right people and launching the projects and programs that will fuel innovation.

  • Phase I: Investing in People and Programs will see leadership assembled, the upfitting of a dedicated space in the Genome Sciences Building and the piloting of select projects that will lay the operational foundation for the second phase.
  • Phase II: Building the Cornerstone for Convergence will see the UNC College of Arts & Sciences and its campus partners join with private investors and the state of North Carolina to construct a cutting-edge research facility that will secure the Institute’s future and multiply its capacity to implement the Innovation Framework.

The result: Carolina will develop new technologies, secure them from risk and ensure the fastest, most successful path to commercialization, all within the footprint of Carolina’s campus.

Innovation made fundamental

What if mathematics holds the key to treating cystic fibrosis?
For more than 40 years — half of those at Carolina — Greg Forest, the Grant Dahlstrom Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, has generously shared his mathematical expertise with those around him. He’s studied lung function, the effects of antibodies on viruses, and polymers, to name only a few areas.
What if an implantable device could attack the tumor and not the patient?
Pancreatic cancer is deadly. But a novel drug delivery device set for clinical trials in 2020 could help doctors attack tumors, improve outcomes and reduce side effects. A team of researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill, including Drs. Jen Jen Yeh and Joseph DeSimone, is leading the way.
What if nanotechnology could provide a low-cost solution to water scarcity?
Addressing a need that affects more than 1.8 billion people worldwide, a team of polymer chemists, computational modelers and engineers at Carolina is developing an innovative membrane-based water purification tool that can safely remove a broad range of water contaminants.

Support the UNC Institute for Convergent Science

Your support for the Convergent Science Building will help Carolina bring together innovators from the worlds of science, engineering, art, humanities, design and business.

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