Arkansas Biosciences Institute Reports Strong Patent Numbers, Research Funding

By Spencer Watson

ABI-supported research scientists were awarded a total of $38.2 million in outside funding from agencies and foundations such as the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

In 2013 and 2014, the state’s research scientists filed 34 patent applications, were awarded 22 provisional patents and received nine full U.S. and European patents.

Arkansas Biosciences Institute, the agricultural and biomedical research program of the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000, is a partnership of scientists from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas-Division of Agriculture and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

“Patent activity that moves research from the laboratory to the workplace has been especially booming in the past two years,” said Robert McGehee, Ph.D., ABI director and dean of the UAMS Graduate School. “As agricultural and biomedical research supported by ABI matures, increased patent activity is expected.”

He further noted that ABI research scientists have been very competitive in receiving grant funding, even in years when federal funding for research has stagnated or even declined.

“Since ABI started in fiscal year 2002, ABI-supported research scientists have been awarded more than $470 million in outside funding,” McGehee said. “We are projecting that at the end of this fiscal year, our researchers will exceed the $500 million mark.”

In accordance with the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Act, the purpose of the Arkansas Biosciences Institute is to conduct agricultural research with medical implications; bioengineering research with applications in the agricultural-medical fields; tobacco-related research that applies behavioral, diagnostic and therapeutic knowledge to address the high-level of tobacco-related illnesses in Arkansas; and nutritional and other research aimed at preventing and treating cancer, congenital and hereditary conditions.

“The agricultural and biomedical research supported by ABI continues to grow the state’s research infrastructure,” McGehee said. “While ABI has been around for a few years, we always want to remind everyone about Arkansas’s agricultural and biomedical research infrastructure. ABI continues to support and invest in the research science community in our state. This most recent annual report has been sent to the governor’s office and to each member of the Arkansas Legislature.”