RTI International

RTI International

RTI International
Motto Improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice
Founded 1958 (1958)
Type Nonprofit
Headquarters Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
Area served
Key people
E. Wayne Holden (President/Chief Executive Officer)
US$783 million (2014)[1]
Website .org.rtiwww

RTI International (formerly Research Triangle Institute) is a Research Triangle Park in North Carolina that provides research and technical services. It was founded in 1958 with $500,000 in funding by local businesses and the three North Carolina universities in the Research Triangle region. RTI started with departments for research in isotopes, operational sciences and statistics. It restructured into four departments in 1971 and later created the Office for International Projects, now called the International Development Group.

RTI later split into eleven departments, including Health Research, Drug Discovery & Development, Education & Training Research, Survey Research, among others. The US Agency for International Development has come to account for 35 percent of RTI's research revenue. RTI research has covered HIV/AIDS, healthcare, education curriculum and the environment, among others.


Planning of the Research Triangle Park

In 1954, Romeo Guest, a building contractor,[2] met with the North Carolina state treasurer, Brandon Hodges, and the president of Wachovia, Robert Hanes, to discuss building a research park in North Carolina to attract new industries to the region.[3][4] They obtained support for the concept of Research Triangle Park from state governor Luther Hodges and the three universities that form the research triangle: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University.[3] The Research Triangle Institute (now RTI International) was formed as the research park's first tenant in 1958 by the park's founders.[5] The following January they announced that $1.425 million had been raised by the Research Triangle Foundation to fund the park and that $500,000 of it had been set aside for RTI.[6][7]

RTI started with three divisions: Isotope Development, Operational Sciences and Statistics Research.[5] Its first contract was a $4,500 statistical study of morbidity data from Tennessee.[4][8] In RTI's first year of operation, it had 25 staff and $240,000 in research contracts.[9] Its early work was focused on statistics, but within a few years expanded into radioisotopes, organic chemistry and polymers. In 1960 the Institute had its first international research contract, for an agricultural census in Nigeria.[4] RTI won contracts with the Department of Education,[8] Defense Department, NASA and the Atomic Energy Commission, growing to $3.4 million in contracts in 1964[10] and $85 million in 1988.[9]

In 1971, RTI's staff of 430 was reorganized into four research groups: social and economic systems, statistical sciences, environmental sciences and engineering, and chemistry and life sciences. It also created a division for education called the Center for Education Research and Evaluation.[8] Four years later, RTI created the Office for International Programs to manage international projects.[8] RTI provided funding assistance to help found the [14]


RTI International is a not-for-profit research organization established by three local universities, but managed independently by a separate board and management team.[12] RTI's structure consists of members of the corporation, the board of governors and corporate officers. The members of the corporation elect governors, who in turn create the organization's policies. Corporate officers are senior managers that report to the board for their area of responsibility.[15]

RTI has eleven service areas:[16]

  • Health Research
  • Drug Discovery & Development
  • Education & Training Research
  • Survey Research & Services
  • Statistics Research
  • International Development
  • Economics & Social Research
  • Advanced Technology
  • Energy Research
  • Environmental Research Services
  • Laboratory & Chemistry Services

RTI also has a separate business called RTI Health Solutions, which supports biotech, diagnostic and medical device companies.[17] As of 2012, the organization's largest division managed the social, statistical and environmental sciences services. More than half of RTI's staff have advanced degrees in one of 120 fields and work on approximately 1,200 projects at a time.[4] RTI has partnerships with the Research Triangle Energy Consortium, the Triangle Global Health Consortium and other universities and research organizations. Many of RTI's staff hold faculty positions at the three universities that form the Research Triangle and participate in cooperative research projects.[18]

There are nine US offices and nine international locations in France, the United Kingdom, South America, Indian and Indonesia, among others, supporting operations in 80 countries.[1] About 60 percent of RTI's staff are headquartered on a 180-acre campus inside the Research Triangle Park.[9][17] Most of RTI International's funding comes from government research contracts.[4][19] In 2012 it authored 627 journal articles. At the time, RTI owned 400 patents.[19] RTI competes with the three universities that form the research triangle and other research institutes for contracts. It bids on $2 billion in research contracts a year and wins approximately 40 percent of the budget it bids on.[4]


Wani (left) and Wall (right) holding a piece of tree bark used to synthesize cancer intervention drugs
RTI International's research has spanned areas like cancer, pollution, drug abuse and education.[9]

RTI scientists Monroe Wall and Mansukh Wani synthesized anti-cancer treatments camptothecin in 1966, from the bark of the Camptotheca tree, and Taxol in 1971, from a Pacific yew tree.[20][21] These two drugs account for $3 billion a year in sales by pharmaceutical companies.[4] In 1986, RTI was awarded a $4 million contract with the National Cancer Institute to conduct an eight-year clinical trial on the effects of an anti-smoking campaign.[22] Two years later, RTI began a $4.4 million program to coordinate AIDS drug trials for the National Institutes of Health. This had grown to $26 million by 1988.[23]

RTI scientists helped identify toxic chemicals in the Love Canal in the 1970s.[4] In 1978, RTI researched the possibility of improving solar cells for the US Department of Energy[24] and coal gasification for the Environmental Protection Agency in 1979.[25] It trained Chinese government employees on using computer models to forecast pollution patterns before the 2007 Olympics in Beijing.[26]

An RTI survey in 1973, commissioned by the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, confirmed prior research that found no connection between drug use and violent crime, despite prior perceptions of heroin users as more prone to violence.[27] A 1975 study RTI conducted for the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 28 percent of 13,000 teenagers polled were "problem drinkers," despite their age.[28] A 1996 study done by RTI and funded by the Pentagon found that drug abuse in the military had been reduced by 90 percent since 1980.[29]

RTI in 1975 recommended that the Bureau of the Mint halt expensive production of pennies, and replace half-dollars with a new dollar coin.[30][31][32] In 2001, RTI scientists created a new thinfilm superlattice material that uses the thermoelectric effect to cool microprocessors.[33] A 2009 study by RTI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in Health Affairs estimated that obesity in the US caused $147 billion in increased medical care costs annually.[34][35] RTI also developed a reading skill measurement program, the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), for the USAID and the World Bank. The EGRA has been used in 70 languages and 50 countries.[36]

RTI began working for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) after the conflict between Iraq and the US began in 2003.[4] USAID work represented 35 percent of RTI's revenue by 2010.[37] An employee of the contractor Unity Resources Group, hired to protect RTI staff doing USAID work in Iraq, shot and killed two Iraqi women on October 9, 2007.[38]

In 2004, Nextreme was spun off of RTI to develop a thermoelectric material for semiconductors commercially.[39][40] RTI acquired a healthcare marketing firm called MasiMax in March 2009.[41][42] It also created another semiconductor startup that year called SiXis.[43] In 2011 RTI created the Center for Agricultural and Environmental Biotechnology[37] and in 2012 it acquired a California-based education research firm, MPR Associates.[44]


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External links

  • Official website