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May 18, 2012

LSU AgCenter & ULM sign new agreement

The University of Louisiana at Monroe and the LSU AgCenter signed a memorandum of understanding on May 18 that will establish cooperative research projects between the two institutions.

Both LSU AgCenter and ULM will contribute funds to jointly support research grants that include faculty from both campuses, said John Russin, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station.

Research teams will be invited to submit proposals that will be reviewed by both institutions, and each proposal will be required to include a faculty member from each institution, Russin said.

The funding will come from the joint fund, with each organization managing the funds for the research in their own institution.

For example, ULM basic pharmaceutical sciences researchers and LSU AgCenter researchers will explore the many compounds used to treat diseases based on natural products found in plants.

ULM’s toxicology program—the only one in the state—employs faculty who will collaborate with LSU AgCenter faculty to investigate how chemicals affect the environment.

Both toxicology and basic pharmaceutical sciences departments are housed within ULM’s College of Pharmacy, the state’s only publicly funded program leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy.

Eric Pani, interim vice president for academic affairs at ULM, said, “Higher education in the state is facing a challenging time. We are charged to improve Louisiana’s economic development and build its intellectual capacity while working in a fiscally challenging economy. I’m looking forward to seeing this partnership grow.”

Cooperation within higher education—sharing efforts and resources—is the only solution to this problem, he added.

“The partnership between ULM and the LSU AgCenter brings together two great institutions and leverages their strengths in a tremendously promising way that will produce benefits very quickly,” Pani said.

ULM President Nick J. Bruno agreed, saying, “ULM’s collaboration with LSU AgCenter means innovative research that benefits the world around us, and just as importantly, the partnership means unique experiences for our students.  Those students who serve as research assistants in these projects will learn directly from their work in the labs, and other students will also benefit as the knowledge discovered in the labs is transferred into the classroom. At that point, the faculty member’s role changes from researcher to teacher.”

Russin concluded, “Because state budgets have become leaner, individual campuses have to reach out to others to build the kind of relationships that contribute to the economy of Louisiana. By joining together, we can fund research teams that can compete for additional funds on the national scene.”

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