Banana, pineapple doctors: New degree set for Costa Rican students


Aug. 6. Dole Food Co. is sponsoring banana and pineapple PhD programs through a partnership with NC State University and the Costa Rican government and universities.

NCRC officials said this is the beginning of what will become a fruitful partnership.

Researchers at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis have met with Dole scientists from Central and South America and representatives of the University of Costa Rica, the National Center for Science and Food Technology, the University of Costa Rica Agricultural Research Center, EARTH University and the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency.

Dole’s sponsorship will pay for two candidates to attend NCSU, including the NCRC’s Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP), an internship researching blueberry, broccoli, oat, strawberry and, in 2016, banana and pineapple.

“Our visiting Dole scientists and the representatives from Costa Rica both learned the true value of the P2EP program, and how we can collaborate on the development of new banana and pineapple varieties, a critical goal for Dole and Costa Rica,” said Dr. Nicholas Gillitt, Dole Nutrition Institute director.

Costa Rican universities have two months to nominate qualified candidates.

They will study metabolic pathways in banana varieties as well as traits of disease resistance and drought tolerance.

The nomination process begins this week with a conference call involving universities and representatives of Dole in Costa Rica.

Dr. Mary Ann Lila, director of NCSU Plants for Human Health Institute, said Costa Rica is a key banana and pineapple region.

The PhD programs are the first result of a research and education agreement established in May 2015 by Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis and David H. Murdock, NCRC founder and Dole Food CEO.

PHOTO: (R) Jomari Torres, MD,  Human Research Core Medical Director with the UNC Nutrition Research Institute shows (l-r) Carlos Murillo, director of EARTH University, Vanessa Gibon, Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency, and Luis Gómez Alpizar, University of Costa Rica Agricultural Research Center, data being generated from a person participating in a research study in the NRI’s whole room calorimeter.


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