UMass President awards $830,000 for faculty science and technology projects
Since 2004, grant program has helped generate $213.5 million in outside research funding
President Robert L. Caret today announced nearly $830,000 in grants to faculty members from the President's Science and Technology Initiatives Fund to support six promising research projects. The projects range from creating a laboratory for urban coastal environmental science to expanding the University's ability to manufacture cutting-edge therapeutics for gene-therapy research.
The initiatives showcase a range of innovative research being undertaken by UMass faculty members that contribute to the growth of the Commonwealth's economy, especially in the science and technology sectors, and that extend the boundaries of human knowledge. The grants provide seed funding to accelerate research activity across all five campuses and position researchers to attract larger investments from external sources to expand the scope of their projects.
"At a time when federal research funding is becoming increasingly competitive, each of the projects funded this year directly support the state's Innovation Economy in strategic areas such as life sciences, defense, clean tech and Big Data," President Caret said. ``These funds provide the support faculty researchers need to spur partnerships with industry and to advance the research priorities of the University and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.''
This marks the 10th year for the President's Science and Technology Initiatives Fund awards - one of three funds that President Caret uses to help advance the work of University of Massachusetts faculty members. The other two are the Creative Economy Initiatives Fund and the Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property Technology Development Fund.
Since 2004, the Science and Technology Initiatives Fund has awarded $9.1 million to UMass researchers, which in turn has helped to attract $213.5 million in research funding from outside sources. The fund also has been instrumental in helping the University grow its R&D budget to nearly $600 million and has aided the creation of some of the most important R&D centers in the state, including the Center for Hierarchical Nanomanufacturing at UMass Amherst; the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy at UMass Boston; the Massachusetts Accelerator for Biomanufacturing at UMass Dartmouth; the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) and the New England Robotics and Validation & Experimentation (NERVE) Center at UMass Lowell; and the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science at UMass Worcester.
Nearly 70 projects representing the breadth of academic inquiry at the University of Massachusetts have been funded to date.
The projects receiving grants this year from the Science and Technology Initiatives Fund are:
Increasing Industry Engagement in the Life Sciences at UMass Amherst: James Capistran, UMass Amherst Innovation Institute - In May 2013, UMass Amherst received $95M, the largest economic development investment in the history of the University, to expand the campus's engagement with the life sciences industry, including specific collaborations with BayState Medical in Springfield and the precision manufacturing industry of the Pioneer Valley. The award was the result of an unprecedented 6-month planning process involving campus administration, faculty, state officials and life sciences professionals that set a new standard of university-industry-government collaboration in Massachusetts. This project will act as the launch pad for the campus's efforts to attract industry partners, coordinate faculty meetings, organize life sciences events and seminars, and establish a campus presence in the Cambridge-Boston area as it establishes research centers in personalized health monitoring and biometric sensing, bioactive drug delivery, and drug target validation technologies. Award: $150,000
Laboratory for Urban & Coastal Environmental Science (LUCES): Bill Robinson, UMass Boston - LUCES will create a lab to coordinate and develop a multidisciplinary team of urban & coastal science researchers and target strategic problems that will lead to a sustainable and funded national research center. It integrates existing marine research projects under one lab to foster more collaboration and enable research faculty to leverage expertise across related disciplines. It also expects to develop a library for water-soluble metabolites in partnership with the UMass Medical School. Collaborators include: Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA); UMMS Proteomics & Mass Spectrometry; Dartmouth and Amherst campuses. Award: $120,000
Simulation and Visualization Approaches to Big Data: Sigal Gottlieb, UMass Dartmouth Center for Scientific Computing and Visualization Research - With the proliferation of Big Data, there is a need to develop specialized, accessible computational and visualization tools for high-performance scientific computing. This project, through the Dartmouth campus's newly created Center for Scientific Computing and Visualization Research, will promote and develop innovative, powerful computational tools to address pressing scientific and societal challenges. Identified research projects will provide proof-of-concept data to strengthen research proposals already under way in biomedical sciences. Partner institutions include the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., for work in sensor technologies, and regional hospital SouthCoast Health Systems, for work with Big Data analytics and visualization of health information. Award: $150,000
Strengthening Army-UMass Collaboration through HEROES Initiative: Ram Nagarajan, UMass Lowell - This project will provide additional resources for the campus's newly created initiative with US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center known as HEROES: "Harnessing Emerging Research Opportunities to Empower Soldiers" to improve the safety, survivability and protection of US Troops. The funds will be used to strengthen relationships with Massachusetts defense-technology companies and to identify new research areas and seed the most promising projects in such disciplines as anti-microbial textiles; high-toughness nylon fiber, parachute aerodynamics; and vitamin-stability in field rations. Award: $150,000
Mass Drug Discovery & Development (MD3): Melissa Moore, Celia Schiffer, Anastasia Khvorova, UMass Medical School, Worcester - This research center is focused on creating a validation laboratory where early stage technologies can be tested and validated to speed commercialization and strengthen interaction between the Medical School and the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. It promises to bring to the public new and cost-effective diagnostics and therapeutics based on chemically defined entities and transform what is traditionally an inefficient process of drug discovery and development. Additionally, MD3 would explore creation of coursework, degrees and certificate programs focused on educating the next generation of drug developers. Award: $100,000
MassBiologics Gene Therapy Vector Manufacturing Center: Mark Klempner, Executive Vice Chancellor, MassBiologics of UMass Medical School - This project will expand the capabilities of MassBiologics, a unique world-class facility owned by UMass Medical School and located in Boston, to establish a global center of excellence for the manufacture of therapeutic "vectors," a key translational resource for the Medical School and new area of Biomanufacturing. It is expected to propel nearly a dozen gene-therapy projects at UMass Medical School that are at a critical translational step toward becoming commercially available therapeutic products. Award: $185,000