The School of Pharmacy and its Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences dedicated the completion of the Thad Cochran Research Center West Wing on Wednesday. More than 70 people came to the ceremony to commemorate the completion of the Thad Cochran Research Center West and hear the history of its work.
The Thad Cochran Research Center West’s completion is the final part of the two-building National Center for Natural Products Research complex. The center will allow further advancement of cutting-edge technology into the university’s natural products research, such as the university’s medicinal plant research programs.
The Thad Cochran Research Center West began in 2012 and was funded by several federal grants. A little over two years later, the completed 97,000-square-foot facility includes many innovative facilities like an expanded botanical specimen repository, laboratories for scaling up synthesis of naturally derived compounds and laboratories for strengthening efforts to discover natural products.
“This expands The University of Mississippi’s opportunities to make an impact in our own community, our state and around the world,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “The research that’s done here will improve health all over the world.”
William Canty, Thad Cochran’s field representative, said Cochran hopes the creation of the new facility will give Mississippians opportunities to work with federal agencies to tackle some of the greatest health and agricultural challenges of the 21st century.
Video by: Jessi Hotakainen
Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs Alice Clark said the Thad Cochran Research Center started nearly 30 years ago when a group of people from the university and representatives from the USDA wanted to create a national center focused on identifying and harnessing beneficial chemicals from nature.
The Thad Cochran Research Center was formally created by legislation in 1988 with great support from Senator Thad Cochran. Cochran’s support for pioneering biomedical and agricultural research has been crucial to the center’s success, according to Larry Walker, director for the National Center for Natural Products Research.
Construction of the Thad Cochran Research Center began in 1992, and the original staff of 24 people began their work in the center in 1995. The center began a partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s agricultural research service in 1996.
Clark said the partnership with the USDA has been crucial to creating an intellectual environment where the free exchange of ideas and productive collaborations flourish daily in the Thad Cochran Research Center.
Another milestone for the research center began in 1998 when the marijuana research program was incorporated.
By 2001, the research center had begun a partnership with the FDA’s Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Center in order to bring solid scientific information to support the safety regulations of botanical dietary supplements.
“We at the USDA supported the construction of this new west wing research facility as means of continuing and expanding the ground-breaking work already being done at the Thad Cochran National Center for Natural Products Research,” Steven Musser, deputy director of scientific operations for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
Musser said he hoped the Thad Cochran Research Center West facility will increase existing efforts in the reference and authentication of materials for botanical dietary supplements and toxicological studies. The FDA greatly relies upon this research to ensure the safety and security of Americans.