Can a plant help heal the world? WPI biologist Pam Weathers thinks so, when that plant is Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood. Over the course of more than three decades, with funding from the National Institutes of Health and other sources, she and colleagues at WPI and around the world haven conducted laboratory studies and participated in clinical trials that demonstrate that the plant’s leaves—which contain a rich mixture of bioactive compounds—may be a potent treatment for such global killers as malaria, schistosomiasis, tuberculosis, and COVID-19.
Weathers started her world-changing studies as WPI was beginning its evolution into a research university, and she remains an active researcher today as faculty and students at all levels are engaged in cutting-edge work across the university and across a wide range of disciplines. They are supported and sustained by a robust research ecosystem that includes state-of-the-art research centers, a wealth of shared facilities, and a rich complement of high-performance computing capabilities. Their research draws steadily increasing levels of funding from a broad cross section of federal agencies, foundations, corporations, and individuals, and they work with a diverse array of partners—universities, government laboratories and agencies, and other organizations here at home and far beyond these towers. As impressive as today’s research operation may be, it is but a prelude to what lies ahead.
With its experience in cross-disciplinary work, its growing research infrastructure, its impressive track record in securing funding, and the coalescing of its research community around a small number of cross-cutting themes, WPI is well-positioned to seize these funding opportunities and advance to a new tier of excellence as a research university. The campaign goal of $150 million in external research funding is an acknowledgement of that potential.