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Costa Rican Scientists Return to NCRC for Planning, P2EP Symposium

July 27, 2015




Only two months after their first visit, Costa Rican representatives return to the NC Research Campus to formalize collaborative research initiatives.

 Kannapolis, NC– A delegation from Costa Rica returns to the NC Research Campus (NCRC) to discuss collaborative research opportunities, attend the Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP) Research Symposium and arrange for a doctoral candidate from Costa Rica to study at the campus.

“By formalizing our scientific collaboration with Costa Rica’s best universities,” said Clyde Higgs, NCRC executive vice president of operations and business development, “we are bringing together leading scientists and top students who will be able to advance the study of some of the most challenging questions in human health, nutrition and agriculture.”

Vanessa Gibson, Director of Corporate Development and Investment Climate for Costa Rican Investment Promotion CINDEAgency (CINDE), said, “The relationship we’ve developed with NC Research Campus allows us as a country to transfer research and development expertise to the Costa Rican talent, hand in hand with one of the major research centers in the United States. After visiting the campus last May with the President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, both NC Research and CINDE have continued working to develop joint educational programs that we hope to materialize in the near term.”

Costa Rica’s President Luis Guillermo Solis visited the NCRC on May 14, 2015 forming an agreement with David H. Murdock, NCRC founder and CEO and Chairman of Castle & Cooke and Dole Foods, for collaborative education and training programs between the NCRC and universities and institutes in Costa Rica.

The University of Costa Rica, the National Center for Science and Food Technology, the University of Costa Rica Agricultural Research Center, EARTH University and CINDE are represented in the delegation that will tour the campus on July 28 and attend the P2EP Research Symposium on July 29 from 10 am to 3 pm in the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory Building, 150 Research Campus Drive, Kannapolis.

logopgNow in its third year, P2EP is answering more complex scientific questions with higher translational value such as examining the wound healing properties of oats and the effect of broccoli on colon cancer. Their research builds on the success of the first two classes to map the plant pathways and genomes of blueberries, strawberries, broccoli and oats. During the symposium the graduate and undergraduate students will present the results of their 11-weeks of research.

While visiting the NC Research Campus, the Costa Rican delegation will meet with several campus partners including the NC State University Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) and Dole Foods.

“We are really looking forward to extending our research on campus to include the expertise of scientists and
students from Costa Rica,” said Mary Ann Lila, PhD, PHHI director and P2EP leader. “Their collaboration will contribute tremendously to our ability to study more crops and better understand how fruits and vegetables improve human health.”

Nicholas Gillitt, PhD, Dole Foods vice president of nutrition research and director of the Dole Nutrition Institute, added, “Getting the Costa Rican University representatives here to Kannapolis is a great first step in ramping up the collaboration President Solis announced recently. We at Dole have huge operations in Costa Rica and want to engage the latest and greatest Costa Rican students in programs designed to improve agriculture and production there. The Dole-sponsored banana and pineapple PhD programs as part of P2EP and through NC State will really kick this goal into high gear.”

About the North Carolina Research Campus

The NC Research Campus is home to corporate, academic and healthcare partners including UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, Duke University, General Mills, Sensory Spectrum, LabCorp, Dole Foods, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, the David H. Murdock Research Institute, Cabarrus Health Alliance and Carolinas Healthcare System. Scientific research is focused on advancing science at the intersection of human health, agriculture and nutrition. The NCRC is located on a 350-acre campus in Kannapolis, NC, just north of Charlotte. For more information, visit

About the Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP)

P2EP is an undergraduate internship program led by NCRC partners UNC Charlotte, NC State, Dole Foods, General Mills, UNC General Administration and the David H. Murdock Research Institute. The undergraduate interns who are led by graduate student team leaders represent universities and colleges throughout North Carolina and the United States. They conduct research into the ways that crops like blueberries, broccoli, oats and strawberries develop compounds that enhance human health. Additional support is provided by the Duke Energy Foundation, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Catawba College, JC Smith University, Winston-Salem State University, Pfeiffer University, Duke Energy Foundation, Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation, Holiday Inn & Suites – Kannapolis, the NC Biotechnology Center and Turner Construction. For more information, visit

About EARTH University

Since 1990, EARTH University’s innovative educational approach has been preparing young people from Latin America, the Caribbean and other regions, including Africa and Asia, to contribute to the sustainable development of their countries and construct a prosperous and just society. EARTH offers a rigorous four-year undergraduate program in agricultural sciences and natural resources management and a prestigious, international faculty, providing a world-class scientific and technological education that emphasizes values, ethical entrepreneurship and environmental and social commitment.

About the University of Costa Rica

The University of Costa Rica (in Spanish, Universidad de Costa Rica, and abbreviated UCR) is a public university with its main campus, Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo Facio, located in San José. It is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious institution of higher learning in Costa Rica, originally established as the Universidad de Santo Tomás in 1843. It is also the most important research university in the country, and Central America. Approximately 39,000 students attend UCR throughout the year.

About the University of Costa Rica Agriculture Research Center

The Agricultural Research Centre of the University of Costa Rica is a unit where the professionals from different areas of agronomy share a space for research on various topics related to Soil Fertility and Plant, Agricultural Biotechnology, Biochemical Processes organics in Soil, Agricultural Microbiology, Postharvest Technology and Natural Resources study. Analysis services soil samples, plant tissues, fertilizers, organic fertilizers and other materials are provided, as well as consultation to various organizations and businesses across the country.

About the National Center for Science and Food Technology

The National Center for Science and Food Technology known as CITA is a national center dedicated to interdisciplinary research, human resource training and scientific and technological assistance from the national agri-food production sector. The CITA is organized into four processes: Research, Analytical Services, Consulting and Training, all working under a quality management system that ensures compliance with the requirements of the food industry.


Media Contact:

Jennifer Woodford, N.C. Research Campus, 704-200-5070 or

Megan Bame, N.C. State University, 704-250-5461 or

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