FDA Pumps $1.2 Million Into Nano Research Through Arkansas Research Alliance

Dec 18, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has extended its support of nano research in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Research Alliance announced this week that it has been awarded a $1.2 million contract from the FDA to extend a collaborative research program focused on graphene-based nanomaterials, in particular the safety and toxicity of graphene and its impact on public health.

Graphene is a common carbon nanomaterial used in electronics and renewable energy devices and is the subject of research into uses in pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

For the last two years, ARA says it has led this strategic research effort at four Arkansas universities: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), University of Arkansas (UAF), University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB).

"No single institution had the tools, resources or people to dedicate to the overall scope of this project," said ARA CEO Jerry Adams. "A collaborative approach was needed, and ARA was selected to spearhead the project."

This is the third round of funding received to date.

Dr. Roger Buchanan is the ARA Program Director who oversees work completed on the four campuses, plus work coordinated with the team at the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) near Pine Bluff. NCTR Director Dr. William Slikker leads a team of more than 600 employees, including 150 Ph.D.-level researchers.

NCTR plays a crucial role in promoting and protecting public health and is the only FDA Center located outside of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Arkansas would not have been in a position to compete for this research without the strong scientific capabilities of NCTR, according to ARA.

"The new FDA contract builds upon the strengths of our research institutions," said Adams. "The program will allow Arkansas-based researchers to lift Arkansas’s scientific reputation and create a nationally and internationally recognized research capability in the nanotechnology area."