Sometimes employers hire well-trained workers to start a new industry. This was the case with many employers in the pharmaceutical industry, which included crops such as hemp, cava, and cranberry. So, teachers from two Florida University colleges worked together to meet that need in a new course.
The course, developed by the University of Florida Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF / IFAS) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and UF Pharmacy College, provides the skills needed to grow new and fresh crops. Laboratories teach students the skills of reproduction, germination, extraction and analysis and everything in between.
“Employers in emerging industries are struggling to find workers to help herbal products and pharmaceuticals,” said Brian Pearson, an assistant professor at UF / IFAS, who co-authored and taught the course. “There is a huge gap in the potential staff in this skill set, and it is affecting manufacturers.”
Guided by industry demand and student demand, Pearson and UF College of Medicine Chris McKardy collaborated to establish and teach the course. The partnership provides expertise in both herbal products and the pharmaceutical industry.
“UF is in a unique position to offer such a course because UF Health and UF / IFAS are a great strength because we are all under the same umbrella,” says McKurdi. “Being able to provide horticultural and agricultural training is a possibility in any agricultural program, but to increase our understanding of medicinal properties, it is a unique opportunity for compounds that take on biological activity in animals and / or people.
The research partnership between UF / IFAS and the College of Pharmacy is well established. The two groups have previously collaborated on projects such as chemistry research and plant-based chemicals pharmacology. These transcendental research projects will help scientists understand the best ways to produce medicinal plants for the benefit of farmers and consumers and ultimately the consumers who buy these plants.
“This work with UF / IFAS will enable us to better understand how to grow these plants as a crop, which can benefit farmers in our region by treating the people who need it,” McCurdy said. “We use cramps in our research but this could only be the tip of the iceberg for more projects with additional medicinal plants.”
Crop diversity is good for farmers and sometimes helps to replace other crops that are at a loss or at a lower price due to market fluctuations.
“Florida has seen a decline in long-term heritage, and it’s important that supporting these new emerging industries will help the lender’s bottom line,” Pearson said.
Special thanks to Roseville Pharmaceuticals and Agrististars, for their students’ experience in the industry and their plant products in the laboratory.
“We truly appreciate the industry support we have received for this course,” Pearson said. “Students have done research, given the UF / IFAS Extension to researchers from all their research. All three land donation missions have worked together to make this course a great success.”
University of Florida includes herbal medicine