Duke Energy gives $150,000 to plant study at NCRC

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2014

KANNAPOLIS — The Duke Energy Foundation has renewed its support of the NC Research Campus-based, Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP) with a contribution of $150,000.
Last year, the Duke Energy Foundation was one of P2EP’s inaugural sponsors, donating $100,000 to the program. P2EP is a collaborative research program that brings together NCRC’s industry and academic scientists with high school, undergraduate and graduate students to investigate how plants make the bioactive compounds that are beneficial to human health and to establish a bioinformatic knowledge base of genetic data.
“I think it is important that we participate with the research campus because it is a vital part of this community that is having an impact on the entire state much like the Research Triangle did,” said Randy D. Welch, Duke Energy district manager of government and community relations, “but the one thing that attracts us to P2EP is the collaborative effort. The collaboration that happens at the campus and as part of P2EP with businesses like Dole Foods and the universities is exactly the type of program Duke Energy wants to support.”
“The UNC system values this program because it draws together every element of the NC Research Campus,” said Dr. Chris Brown, vice president for research and graduate education for the University of North Carolina System. The UNC System is a founding sponsor of P2EP. “P2EP epitomizes what the NCRC is all about by combining in one place the best in research, education and public-private partnerships. I am pleased to see corporate partners like Duke Energy recognize this and contribute to the scientific and workforce development of North Carolina.”
The Duke Energy Foundation contribution is the second announcement about P2EP sponsorship in the last month. In April, the Holiday Inn Express- Kannapolis announced the establishment of a scholarship for P2EP interns.
“We’re synonymous with collaboration at the NCRC,” said Clyde Higgs, vice president of business development for the NC Research Campus. “P2EP is the first program that touches many of the partners in Kannapolis and reaches out across the state. Funding from Duke Energy Foundation and all of our partners is really an endorsement of how successful P2EP is as a collaborative research and education program.”
P2EP is a collaborative, $1.9 million research program that pairs the NCRC’s leading scientists from industry and academia with high school, undergraduate and graduate students to map plant pathways to discover how the beneficial bioactive compounds are produced and to create a bioinformatic knowledge base of genetic data.
The 32 interns from 10 universities and colleges as well as two high schools will be at the NC Research Campus from June 9 to Aug. 15 researching blueberries, strawberries, oats and broccoli. The interns represent Catawba College, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, NC State, UNC-Wilmington, Johnson C Smith, Pfeiffer, Winston-Salem State, Johns Hopkins University, Cannon School and A.L. Brown High School.
This year’s P2EP interns will build on the work of the original 2013 class that completed one of the first composite maps of the oat genome from 12 different mapping populations, completed broccoli and blueberry sequencing and created more than 200 sequence libraries. The interns were also part of the scientific paper “Students’ perspective on genomics: from sample to sequence using the case study of blueberry” published in Frontiers in Genetics in November 2013.
Additional P2EP sponsors are Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation, Catawba College, David H. Murdock Research Institute, Dole Nutrition Research Laboratory, General Mills, NC State University Plants for Human Health Institute, Turner Construction and University of North Carolina at Charlotte Bioinformatics Services Division.