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As Assistant Professor in the Joint BME Department and Adjunct Professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Dr Rahima Benhabbour’s ultimate goal has been to develop and commercialize innovative drug delivery devices for disease prevention and treatment. Back in 2016, Benhabbour founded a startup company, AnelleO, to develop intravaginal rings (IVRs) that could serve a variety of women’s health needs: from infertility to HIV prevention.

In May 2017, AnelleO received its first seed funding from Carolina’s KickStart Venture Services. And more recently in April, her lab received a $3.74 million NIH grant. Benhabbour considers the supportive, innovative environment at Carolina an essential component of her success — especially the direct access to clinicians. “As a bench scientist, you really have to have that connection,” she said. “If I don’t know what their hurdles are, how can I design the right technology? Hearing about patients’ experiences is what gets ideas going.” You can read her full feature on UNC-Chapel Hill The Well here.

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