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Fabricio Medina-Bolivar Selected for Arkansas Research Alliance Fellows Program


JONESBORO – The Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) has announced the appointment of six new ARA Fellows, including Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar of Arkansas State University.

A professor of plant metabolic engineering in the Department of Biological Sciences, Medina-Bolivar joined A-State’s faculty in 2005.

A-State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse nominated Medina-Bolivar for the recognition.

“Dr. Medina-Bolivar represents an incredibly gifted research faculty here at A-State. This recognition by the ARA will signal to others across the state and in the science community the high regard we hold for him,” Damphousse said.  “He is a rising star in his field of study and he represents A-State so well.”

The ARA Fellows program, launched in 2014, recognizes research leaders who are currently working in Arkansas at one of the state’s research campuses, including A-State, and the National Center for Toxicological Research at Jefferson.  The ARA Fellows from university campuses receive a $75,000 grant to support their work.  A formal announcement of the new class of ARA Fellows is planned for August.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from Cayetano Heredia University in Peru and his Ph.D. degree in plant physiology from Pennsylvania State University, Medina-Bolivar conducted postdoctoral research in molecular biology at Virginia Tech before coming to A-State.

"I am very honored to have been nominated and chosen as recipient of the Arkansas Research Alliance award representing Arkansas State University.  It is humbling to have received this award along with my highly esteemed colleagues that have received it in the past,” Medina-Bolivar commented. 

His research interests include molecular biology, plant biotechnology, plant physiology, and the biological activity of novel natural products.

In his nomination letter, Damphousse noted, “On campus, he has established a research team that includes graduate students and undergraduate students from Arkansas and eight other countries.  He is well known as an outstanding student mentor, which is routinely demonstrated as his students are recognized for their research at national and international conferences.”

With more than 25 years of experience in plant biotechnology, Medina-Bolivar is considered one of the world’s leading scientists using hairy root cultures as production systems for valuable natural products. His cutting-edge technology has provided means to study the biological activity of novel natural products and identify their benefits to human health.

“I am very thankful for the support and encouragement given to me by the university to grow my research,” Medina-Bolivar added.  “This recognition would not have been possible without the contributions of my students, postdocs, laboratory assistants and collaborators. I look forward to expanding my research and continuing to grow with Arkansas State University."

He is a founding member of the American Council for Medicinally Active Plants (ACMAP) and currently serves the organization’s executive director.  He was president of ACMAP in 2014-2015 and program chair and host of the 2012 ACMAP conference at A-State and 2016 ACMAP conference in Lima, Peru.

His awards for research in natural products include the Arthur Neish Award from the Phytochemical Society of North America in 2006 and the Statewide Arkansas Biosciences Institute Investigator of the Year award in 2015. His research has produced several peer-reviewed publications and his innovative work has been granted patents in the United States and Europe.

Medina-Bolivar, along with his research team, has given over 290 presentations in the United States and abroad.  He would like his research to move forward in industry and ultimately support the development of products that will improve the quality of life. Towards this endeavor, he co-founded and currently serves as chief scientific officer of Nature West, a start-up biotechnology company focused on the production of specialty plant natural products.

In order to promote leadership and inspire higher education within the Hispanic community, Medina-Bolivar serves as chair of the Northeast Arkansas Hispanic Professional Network.  He was recognized as an “Outstanding Hispanic Achiever of the Year” by the Centro Hispano of Jonesboro in 2011, and has been a board member of the Centro Hispano since 2016.

Medina-Bolivar becomes the fourth Arkansas Research Alliance Fellow at Arkansas State, following Dr. Argelia Lorence, professor of metabolic engineering, in 2015, Dr. Brandon Kemp, associate professor of electrical engineering, in 2016, and Dr. Xiuzhen Huang in 2019.

The ARA Fellows program was created to advance the public-private partnership mission of ARA by supporting world-class researchers whose work strengthens the competitiveness of the state. ARA Fellows focus on innovations in biomedical engineering, plant biochemistry, nanoscience, microbiology, nutritional improvements, electronics research and more, often resulting in a direct impact on the state’s economy.

Founded in 2008, ARA is a 501(c)3 organization governed by a board of trustees comprised of chancellors from Arkansas research campuses and CEOs from across the state.

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Fabricio Medina-Bolivar
Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar