North Carolina Research Campus

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David H. Murdock Core Laboratory on the North Carolina Research Campus

The North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC)[1] is a public-private research center that is home to corporations, universities and healthcare organizations committed to transforming science at the intersection of human health, nutrition and agriculture.

The goal is to find new ways to prevent and treat diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and other diet and lifestyle-related disorders. Research and product development involves fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs and the health-promoting bioactive compounds they contain as well as functional and curative foods, exercise physiology, personalized nutrition and post-harvest technologies. The 350-acre campus is located just north of Charlotte, NC in the city of Kannapolis, North Carolina, United States.

About[edit]

The corporations, universities and healthcare organizations that are partnering tenants at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, NC, share a joint mission to improve science, discovery and product development as it relates to human health, nutrition and agriculture. Bioactive compounds in plants and their potential to prevent and treat diseases like cancer, Atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other metabolic disorders are a primary research focus. Scientists also study how to improve fruits and vegetables in order to create value-added and more nutritious crops that can benefit farmers and consumers.

Scientific Findings[edit]

Scientists at the North Carolina Research Campus are continually publishing new research findings. Examples include:

•NC A&T Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies- natural compounds gingerols and shogaols in ginger are potential preventative agents against lung and colon cancer, and 10-gingerol is a potential treatment to prevent anemia caused by chemotherapy or renal disease.

•NC State University Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI)- compounds in several ginger varieties show promise as a potential treatment for some cancers.

•UNC Greensboro Center for Biomedical Translational Research- zinc can repair and potentially reverse liver damage caused by alcohol-induced fatty liver disease, a risk factor for developing cirrhosis and liver cancer.

•Appalachian State University (ASU) Human Performance Laboratory- walking daily for 45 minutes versus being sedentary can reduce incidences of upper respiratory tract infections by 43 percent.

•ASU and the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute (NRI)- 45-minutes of vigorous exercise increases metabolic rate for 14 hours post-workout, burning an average of 190 additional calories.

•PHHI and Rutgers University - a functional food ingredient that is a concentrated form of phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables that is being tested with populations in Africa to improve their nutrition through a Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenges Grant.

•David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI)- probiotic bacteria that can synthesize cartenoids and be delivered in yogurt as a solution for vitamin A deficiency, another Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenges Grant project.

•PHHI, Johnston & Wales University, chefs, farmers and campus partner Sensory Spectrum- a new North Carolina strawberry with a longer growing season and better taste and nutrition.

•PHHI, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Bioinformatics and DHMRI- first complete map of the blueberry genome.

•NRI- a mother’s consumption of the nutrient choline during pregnancy is directly related to infant brain development; a genetic pattern in the pathway of the nutrient choline could be used to produce one of the first diagnostic methods for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; and a mother’s genotype and her consumption of the fatty acid DHA while pregnant is linked to how her child’s memory functions.

•NC A&T- a biomaterial that can be used in packaging and on surfaces to prevent the spread of norovirus, one of the most common causes of foodborne illness in the United States, and the discovery that extracts from bitter melon and sorrel in lab tests can reduce pathogenetic virulence.

History[edit]

David H. Murdock, chairman and owner of Dole Food Company, Inc., one of the world’s largest producer of high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables, founded the North Carolina Research Campus. Mr. Murdock is also chairman and owner of Castle & Cooke, Inc., a company with business activities that include the development and ownership of real estate, leasing of transportation equipment and manufacturing of brick.

Combining business acumen with a personal commitment to health and nutrition along with support from the state of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina system, Murdock announced the establishment of the North Carolina Research Campus in 2005. To make way for the 350-acre campus, Murdock and the North Carolina division of Castle and Cooke, Inc, which is located in Kannapolis, oversaw the razing of the former textile mill in the center of the city. In 1982, Murdock owned the textile mill then known as Cannon Mills, the largest manufacturer of home textiles in the world. In 1986, his firm Pacific Holding Company sold the mill. Murdock retained substantial property holdings in Kannapolis. The mill later became known as Fieldcrest Cannon and later Pillowtex. Pillowtex announced bankruptcy and closed in 2003 causing the largest mass lay-off in North Carolina history. Murdock bought the mill property at auction in 2004.

Construction started quickly on the North Carolina Research Campus after the six-million-square-foot textile mill was demolished. The first building, the 311,000 square-foot David H. Murdock Research Core Laboratory, opened in 2008 along with the North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health building and the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute building.

Economic Impact[edit]

The collaborative work to support the establishment and growth of the campus has reflected an effort by the state of North Carolina to revitalize the region following the decline of the textile industry and provide new opportunities for employment.

The seven universities in the University of North Carolina system that are part of the North Carolina Research Campus- UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, UNC Charlotte, NCA&T, NC Central, UNC Greensboro and Appalachian State- have created 151 new local jobs and supported more than 100 interns from high school through graduate level. The UNC schools have also collectively brought in more than $45 million in grant funding through the end of fiscal year 2012. The combined employment of the campus partners is over 600 people. The majority of the employees, an estimated 50 percent, are locally hired from the Charlotte-area, while the rest have relocated.

Duke University, through the MURDOCK Study, has attracted additional funding including a $35 million donation from David H. Murdock, NC Research Campus founder, and a $9.7 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to improve the care, management and health outcomes for people with Type 2 diabetes in the Southern United States.

The North Carolina Research Campus is part of the larger effort by leaders in the Charlotte-area to attract energy, health and other knowledge-based industries and is one of seven research campus that contribute to North Carolina’s strength in the life science industry.

Campus Growth[edit]

Since the David H. Murdock Research Core Laboratory, the North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health building and the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute first opened in 2008, the LabCorp Biorepository[2] and the Rowan-Cabarrus Biotechnology and Nurse Training Center[3] have opened on campus. In 2012, the headquarters of the Cabarrus Health Alliance,[4] the regional public health authority, opened. In summer 2013, a 60,000 square foot Class A medical office building will open with Carolinas Healthcare System[5] as the main tenant. A 1,500 square-foot speculative laboratory with flexible space that can house one to three companies was announced in November 2012 and a second space is in the planning stages, both labs are in the core lab building. The city of Kannapolis is planning a new city hall and police station on the North Carolina Research Campus on land given to them by David H. Murdock. The new building will also expand the campus’ available meeting and conference space. In all, the campus has close to 900,000 square feet built out. Additional opportunities for partnering organizations and campus growth include additional wet lab, medical and office space and a wellness center, conference center, retail corridor and residential housing adjacent to campus.

Companies[edit]

Companies currently doing business as part of the North Carolina Research Campus are:

Castle & Cooke: Castle & Cooke is the commercial real estate company owned by David H. Murdock that is developing the North Carolina Research Campus. Their administrative offices are located in the adjacent downtown at 210 Oak Avenue. The marketing offices are on campus in the Plants for Human Health Institute building.

Dole Foods Nutrition Research Laboratory: The lab’s mission is to produce healthier fruits and vegetables by identifying and quantifying the phytochemical content of the company’s fruits and vegetables and supporting the research requests of the company’s divisions. The research of the Dole Foods Nutrition Research Laboratory has contributed directly to the development of a number of Dole products including a chia seed cluster snack and a vitamin D Portobello mushroom powder. Dole’s research has resulted in several scientific publications contributing to the knowledge base supporting the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

General Mills: Through natural and traditional breeding methods, General Mills is partnering with the David H. Murdock Research Institute and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Bioinformatics Services Division to map the oat genome and create an oat with higher and more consistent levels of beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is the soluble fiber that is clinically proven to reduce cholesterol. This project is being conducted through a grant to the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a global research consortium of more than 30 scientists.

LabCorp-Kannapolis Biorepository:[2] The LabCorp-Kannapolis Biorepository (Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings) or biobank stores research samples for pharmaceutical and biotech companies as well as several hundred thousand samples for Duke University’s MURDOCK Study. Headquartered in Burlington, North Carolina, LabCorp is a clinical services company involved in genomic testing and the commercialization of new diagnostic technologies. The LabCorp biorepository is located in Kannapolis about a mile from the main campus.

Monsanto: A multinational, agricultural biotechnology company, Monsanto’s lab at the North Carolina Research Campus is part of the company’s fruit and vegetable seeds division. They are looking at fruits and vegetables, such as peppers and melons, to find ways to improve the flavor, taste, aroma and nutritional properties. Monsanto has a long-standing collaborative relationship with NC State University, one of the eight universities at the NCRC. The company donated a cabbage germplasm collection to the NCSU’s Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) and is collaborating on a grant to enhance through hybridization the levels of lutein in commercial broccoli to help fight eye-diseases like macular degeneration.

Sensory Discovery Center: Sensory Spectrum is a global leader in the generation of high-quality sensory information. As a leader in the field of sensory and consumer science, Sensory Spectrum and its Discovery Center located in downtown Kannapolis, adjacent to the NC Research Campus, provide custom designed studies to companies that define and quantify consumers’ interactions with the sensory properties of products to integrate sensory properties to develop, position and improve products.

David H. Murdock Research Institute[edit]

The David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) is a nonprofit organization located at the center of the North Carolina Research Campus. DHMRI examines issues concerning human health, nutrition and agriculture applying expertise and state-of-the-art technology in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, light microscopy, NMR and analytical sciences. DHMRI serves as the campus’ core laboratory and as a contract research organization providing scientific services for university researchers, government agencies and small and large industry partners.

Universities[edit]

UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute uses advanced genomic and metabolomic biotechnology to advance the development of personalized nutrition with specific emphasis on the nutrient choline, infant brain development, obesity, metabolism, epigenetic, neurovascular development, nutrigenetics, pediatric brain development and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI), a part of NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, leads in the discovery and delivery of innovative plant-based solutions to advance human health. The research component investigates fruits and vegetables to enhance the health-protective value of food crops that have the potential to increase the economic impact of North Carolina agriculture. The NC Cooperative Extension, educates farmers and consumers in five areas: sustaining agriculture and forestry; protecting the environment; maintaining viable communities; developing responsible youth; and developing strong, healthy and safe families.

UNC Charlotte Bioinformatics Research Services Division is part of the UNC Charlotte Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics located at the North Carolina Research Campus. They apply bioinformatics to the discovery, development and application of novel computational technologies to help solve important biological problems using specialized computer systems and software, data management solutions and analysis for academic researchers and biotechnology companies, on and off campus.

North Carolina Central University Nutrition Research Program, which is part of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute, conducts research to identify and evaluate bioactive natural products from functional foods and herbal medicine using zebrafish and rodent models to advance knowledge of human nutrition at the cellular and genetic level, especially as it relates to the prevention and treatment of cancer and diabetes.

NC A&T State University’s Center of Excellence for Post Harvest Technologies (CEOPHT) researches post-harvest technologies to improve the quality and safety of food after it has left the farm. Research spans processing, preservation, consumer research, recovery of health promoting food components, food safety issues, storage stability and quality and value-added product development for food and non-food uses.

UNC Greensboro Center for Translational Biomedical Research is an arm of the UNC Greensboro Department of Nutrition, School of Human Environmental Sciences. The center studies cellular and molecular mechanisms of action in bioactive food components and the molecular targets for these dietary components to understand their benefits to human health and wellness, healthy aging and prevention of diseases such as cancer.

Duke University/MURDOCK Study (Measurement to Understand the Reclassification of Disease of Cabarrus/Kannapolis) is a multi-tiered, long-term genomic study that is banking biological samples from the local community to understand genetic and molecular data that will improve the understanding of and treatments for diseases such as heart disease, obesity, osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C osteoarthritis and Alzheimer's disease.

Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus is a national leader in the area of nutrition and exercise immunology. Working closely with trained and amateur athletes, corporate collaborators and sponsors as well as community participants, the Human Performance Lab investigates the influence of unique plant molecules on age-related loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia), muscle mitochondrial biogenesis and exercise-induced changes in immune function, oxidative stress and inflammation.

Healthcare[edit]

The Cabarrus Health Alliance is the health department serving Cabarrus County and the surrounding area. They provide healthcare services and education to the community to promote healthy lifestyles. The Cabarrus Health Alliance is part of a three-year, $9.7 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid that is led by Duke University to improve the care, management and health outcomes, including reducing the cost of care, for people with Type 2 diabetes in the Southern United States.

Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) is the largest healthcare system in the Carolinas and one of the largest publicly owned systems in the nation. CMC-NorthEast will house primary- and specialty-care practices and an imaging center in the NCRC Medical Plaza when it opens in the summer of 2013.

Workforce Training[edit]

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Biotechnology and Nurse Training Center is located at the North Carolina Research Campus within walking distance of all of the campus partners. Students can earn associate degrees including one in biotechnology that prepares them for jobs as lab technicians, research assistants or quality control associates. Rowan-Cabarrus training programs are a source of interns and employees for campus partners. The training center hosts ten classrooms, ten laboratories, faculty and staff offices, a community event room, library, multiple conference rooms, distance-education and video conferencing capabilities, a student center, Small Business Center and the Office of Corporate and Professional Development.

References[edit]

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