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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2003

Valuable UT partnerships

A promising research and development relationship continues to expand between the University of Toledo and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. UT's College of Pharmacy is prepared to tackle another challenge with research funds provided by the USDA.

The College of Pharmacy has received a $325,000 federal grant to help chemists discover not only what curative properties soybeans may possess, but why the ingredients in the plant are so potent.

UT is sharing grant money and project work with the Southern Regional Research Center of the Agricultural Research Service in New Orleans and the Center for Bioenvironmental Research, a joint project of Tulane and Xavier universities in New Orleans.

The UT grant is expected to remain in effect for at least five years, bringing the College of Pharmacy $1.6 million.

Earlier this year, the USDA agreed to bankroll $1.5 million annually for studies in UT greenhouses involving bedding plant diseases and pests. Northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan have a wealth of commercial greenhouses whose growers can offer direct input and receive direct benefit from UT's regional research.

The USDA-funded research to optimize the practical medicinal properties of soybeans - which hold untold possibilities for the pharmaceutical industry - is another opportunity for UT to raise its research profile and perhaps increase its chances of becoming a permanent research site for the agriculture department.

The research developments at UT are encouraging not only for the advancement of mutually beneficial commercial-research partnerships, but for the new economic growth they may attract.

In his State of the University Address, UT President Daniel Johnson stressed the importance of committing the school and its resources to becoming an economic engine for northwest Ohio. Winning vital research grants, to help area growers and to study pharmaceutical drug development based on the curative properties of soybeans, is certainly an optimistic step toward that goal.

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