CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University will receive $50 million over five years from the Food and Drug Administration to establish a new research center.

According to UNC, the universities will use the funds to create the Research Triangle Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation, or Triangle CERSI.

The center is the newest of only five CERSIs across the U.S. It will work with FDA scientists to perform cutting-edge scientific research to better inform and support the FDA’s needs.

The center will also involve collaborations with North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University, a leading historically Black university.

The four other FDA-funded CERSIs include the University of Maryland, the University of California at San Francisco in partnership with Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, and Yale University in partnership with Mayo Clinic.

“We are delighted to be awarded the fifth national CERSI, which is a testament to the outstanding scientists at Carolina and Duke, along with our collaborating institutions N.C. State and NCCU,” said Dr. Paul Watkins, with the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. “This center will support many joint research projects involving FDA scientists to better inform regulatory decisions and thereby improve public health.”

UNC said the goal of the center is to serve as an accelerator to meet the FDA’s evolving need to access the most current scientific knowledge. The center will provide an abundance of essential new information, as well as infrastructure and tools to shorten the drug and device development process, advance public health, and inform regulatory decision-making and guidance documents that complement and enhances other CERSIs.

“We are uniquely positioned to leverage the tremendous strengths of Duke’s trial and observational research infrastructure, machine learning, statistical knowledge, in silico trials, and imaging expertise to answer meaningful questions for patients and other key stakeholders,” said Robert Mentz, M.D., associate professor of medicine and population health sciences and chief of the heart failure section at Duke University School of Medicine and a Duke Clinical Research Institute faculty member.