On this day in Alabama history: Research institute renamed to reflect new purpose

On this day in Alabama history: Research institute renamed to reflect new purpose
(Erin Harney / Alabama NewsCenter)

May 4, 1944

The Southern Research Institute was established as the first independent scientific research center in the Southeast. Formerly the Alabama Research Institute, the facility was renamed the Southern Research Institute on May 4, 1944, to reflect a more regional focus. It moved to its new 2-acre hilltop home in Birmingham four months later. The institute grew out of a 1930 study conducted by Stewart J. Lloyd, dean at the University of Alabama, indicating opportunities in the state for research into areas ranging from chemicals for paper manufacturing plants to fertilizers and insecticides. But it was not until 1940 that business and university leaders acted on Lloyd’s recommendations, forming the Southern Association of Science and Industry. Southern Research was officially chartered on Oct. 11, 1941. Alabama Power CEO Thomas Martin took the reins as chairman of the board of trustees, replacing land developer Benjamin Russell, who died after one month in that role. By 1947, Southern Research had 41 active projects, 80 employees, including 49 scientists, and an income of $320,000. Six Food and Drug Administration-approved cancer drugs are on the market, thanks to the work of Southern Research. The institute has also screened many other cancer and anti-viral drugs, and conducted research in materials science, environment and energy, noise vibration testing and systems development.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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