Now 50 years old, Research Triangle Park looks forward

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Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - January/February 2009,

The high-tech mecca plans to maintain its status as an economic driver for North Carolina

Outsourcing in all areas of drug development and manufacturing is on the rise, and will likely affect the look and makeup of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park as it enters the second half of its first century. Contract research organizations, development organizations, and manufacturing organizations “are all strong in RTP and will continue to grow rapidly,” according to Charles Hamner, DVM, Ph.D., chairman of the board at the RTP-based Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences. Hamner is credited with playing a key role in transforming North Carolina into a biotech state and is considered a pioneer in state-sponsored biotech initiatives.

Hamner will be among four panelists speaking this week on “RTP at 50: What’s Next?” in celebration of the park’s semicentennial. Other panelists are William Little, a member of the original 1959 RTP Committee; Dr. Wayne Holden, executive VP at RTI International; and Rick Weddle, CEO at the Research Triangle Foundation.

“Centers of innovation in oncology, medical devices, and diagnostics are underway,” says Hamner of the RTP evolution. “Work on the FDA Critical Path Initiative is also underway through the Center for Drug Safety Sciences (CDSS), which draws interest from multinational corporations as well as Asia and Europe.”


The 7.000-acre RTP, home to more than 170 companies employing 42,000 high-tech workers and some 10,000 contract employees, maintains its vigor as a biotech center thanks to its infrastructure, says Hamner. The NC Biotechnology Center, Community College Technician Training, high-caliber researchers, support from state political leadership, and the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), are some of the institutions and resources in place to support growth.