Arkansas's biotechnology industry is strong and getting stronger, thanks to the support of the growing research clusters throughout the state. From medicine to agriculture and beyond, the state of Arkansas is partnering with its scientists and entrepreneurs in this growing 21st century industry.
Arkansas is home to the world's largest producer of protein products - Tyson Foods - and the world's largest rice miller - Riceland Foods - so it is no wonder that the state has a vested interest in agriculture-related bioscience. Tyson Foods recently expanded its food-safety laboratory. Combine these private-sector research facilities with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) in Jefferson County and it becomes apparent that Arkansas offers a critical mass of scientists working on food safety, biosecurity, and plant-based medicine.
The NCTR is a federally funded research institute that conducts peer-reviewed research focused on toxicity as it relates to human exposure and susceptibility. With more than 1 million square feet, the facility consists of 132 general or special purpose labs, 23 pathological processing labs, and 10 BioSafety Level 3 labs. Specific research includes toxicoinformatics, photoxicology, functional genomics, hepatotoxicology, metabolomics, and proteomics.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) - ranked among America's best hospitals and graduate schools - is the state's largest basic and applied research institution, with more than $10 million in annual research funding, grants, and contracts. UAMS houses one of only three geriatric departments in the country affiliated with a college of medicine, which has been ranked among the top 10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, UAMS is a leader in research and treatment for multiple myeloma, treating people from around the world.
The UAMS BioVentures provides incubator space, including FDA-certified "ultra-clean lab" needed for human trial activities. Two examples of promising biotech companies with BioVentures connections are HealthSpan Solutions and Safe Foods. Safe Foods is an emerging leader in food safety products and technologies for food producers and processors. HealthSpan Solutions provides nutritional products designed to combat specific illnesses common in individuals over the age of 50.
The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville is the state's largest university, with about 18,000 students. The university is home to the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and the Center of Excellence for Agricultural Medicine - a collaborative partnership between the School of Agriculture and UAMS.
The Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI) is a medical and agricultural research consortium focused on improving the health of Arkansans through the medical implications of agriculture, genetic bio-engineering, tobacco-related diagnostics and therapies, and preventative nutrition.
Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro offers programs focusing on plant biotechnology systems, including plant-made pharmaceuticals, nutriceuticals, and diagnostic tools for food science.
Recently, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and UAMS announced published research that uses nanoparticles to target cancerous cells. The particles attach themselves to the cancerous cells, allowing the doctor to destroy the cells with a heated laser. This type of research illustrates the expanding research capabilities in both nanotechnology and cancer research.
The future of biotech research and development is bright in Arkansas.