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Collaborative Success Stories: Barking up the Right Tree


Tree matter

University of Missouri researchers say cedar trees could help fight disease.

The Eastern Red Cedar is an abundant tree often cleared away by farmers. However, it may have hidden benefits. Funded by The Mizzou Advantage initiative, Drs. Chung-Ho Lin and George Stewart discovered that compounds found in the tree could prove effective against skin cancer and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), a “superbug” that is resistant to most medications.

The compounds must go through clinical trials before they are approved for commercial use, but they are located in the needles, so the trees don’t have to be felled—making them a plentiful and sustainable source for new drugs and potentially creating revenue for farmers.

The scientists’ research drew national and international attention, with more than forty media placements. The team received nearly $45,000 in external funding and submitted two patents. The project also gave MU undergraduate student Che-Min Su the chance to share his own related research with state legislators. Su was one of a few students who received a resolution from Senator Tom Dempsey to recognize his excellence and achievement.

Dr. Chung-Ho Lin is research assistant professor at MU’s Center for Agroforestry. Dr. George Stewart is professor of microbial pathogenesis and department chair of pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine