The CCRC was founded at the University of Georgia in September 1985 to answer the national need for a center devoted to increasing knowledge of the structures and functions of complex carbohydrates. Evidence was rapidly growing of the key roles these molecules play in a broad range of biological recognition and regulatory phenomena — cellular communication, gene expression, immunology, organism defense mechanisms, growth and development. As this area of research had been a relatively under-funded and under-staffed endeavor in the United States, it has been essential to direct more research attention and investment toward elucidating the chemical structures and biological functions of the oligo- and polysaccharides involved in these processes, to train more glycoscientists, and to bring together the multidisciplinary expertise and the expensive instrumentation required to serve the scientific community.

Today, the CCRC is the home to the University of Georgia Cancer Center and to three federally designated centers for carbohydrate research: the Department of Energy (DOE)-funded Center for Plant and Microbial Complex Carbohydrates, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/NCRR Research Resource for Integrated Glycotechnology and the NIH/NCRR Integrated Technology Resource for Biomedical Glycomics. As a federal center, the CCRC provides analytical services to scientists in university, government, or industrial laboratories who are interested in complex carbohydrate molecules and offers two one-week, hands-on, laboratory training courses every summer in the techniques used to analyze complex carbohydrates.

Construction on the new Center for Molecular Medicine, a 43,000 sq. ft. facility adjacent to the CCRC, began in June 2016. This center, which focuses on the discovery of new therapies, cures, and diagnostic tools, has operated in various locations on UGA’s campus since its founding in 2012. Once completed in August 2016, the new facility will give the researchers better opportunities to collaborate with each other and with CCRC faculty.