Lawmakers praise research facility

The National Center for Toxicological Research, or NCTR, in Jefferson 
County is shown in this 2002 aerial photo. (Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
The National Center for Toxicological Research, or NCTR, in Jefferson County is shown in this 2002 aerial photo. (Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Arkansas's congressional delegation commemorated the 50th anniversary of the National Center for Toxicological Research, or NCTR, at Jefferson County on Thursday.

U.S. Reps. Bruce Westerman, Rick Crawford, French Hill, and Steve Womack and U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton introduced House and Senate resolutions recognizing this milestone, according to a news release.

William Slikker Jr., director of NCTR, also took note of the achievement.

"This year, we celebrate the first 50 years of the National Center for Toxicological Research, established in 1971, as the only dedicated research center for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration," Slikker said. "NCTR's mission continues to be providing quality data for and new approaches to safety assessments for FDA-regulated products. The state of science has progressed from observational science to include many modern techniques, such as genomic technology, bioinformatics, imaging and stem cell/microphysiological systems."

On Aug. 11, 1971, President Richard Nixon established the NCTR at Jefferson. ThisFDA research facility promotes and protects public health and provided critical support to Arkansas during the covid-19 pandemic. The NCTR employs 680 people who live in 17 counties in Arkansas and contributes nearly $70 million to the state, local and national economies, according to the release.

Westerman, the Fourth District congressman, said NCTR has been an invaluable addition to the district and nation.

"The Fourth District is proud to host the only FDA site location outside the Washington, D.C., area, providing hundreds of jobs and millions in revenue to the state and the local economy. I am grateful for the vital work of NCTR's researchers and scientists to protect American consumers, and I am pleased to support its continued research through this resolution," Westerman said.

Crawford said he was proud that Arkansas continues to play a vital role in protecting the health and safety of Americans.

"For half a century, the National Center for Toxicological Research has provided vital research and services to ensure that Americans have safe food, cosmetics and medicine. Without such facilities, the United States would not be home to the world's safest and most abundant food supply," Crawford said.

Hill said he was proud to recognize the 50-year anniversary and is dedicated to supporting the NCTR's efforts towards a healthier, safer America, he said.

"The NCTR has undoubtedly improved the lives of Arkansans and all Americans. I appreciate the contribution hundreds of Arkansans have made, through the NCTR, to the well-being of the people and economy of Arkansas," Hill said.

Womack said NCTR is a premier facility that is advancing research and health collaboration across the nation.

"We are fortunate to have this federal laboratory and hardworking scientists support medical ingenuity and projects right here in Arkansas. With half a century of service, I am proud to honor this milestone," Womack said.

Boozman and Cotton also recognized the agency.

"We can be incredibly proud to have the NCTR in our state and know that fellow Arkansans are playing a significant role to improve the health and safety of all Americans. I've been proud to support the work of the scientists and researchers at this FDA facility and am pleased to recognize this special occasion," Boozman said.

"The National Center for Toxicological Research conducts critical research that was especially vital during the pandemic. I'm proud of the several hundred Arkansans who work at the NCTR, and I look forward to another successful 50 years," said Cotton.