Updated August 28 at 3:28pm

Investment in researcher Rothman raises URI profile

By Kaylen Auer
PBN Staff Writer

The University of Rhode Island’s Institute for Immunology and Informatics, also known as iCubed, does not rely on the university to finance its faculty salaries, and none of its faculty are tenured, meaning that expansion of any individual investigator’s program is entirely dependent on whether they publish and win grants, said director Dr. Anne S. De Groot. Faculty members who win grants get more space and equipment and control their own funding.

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LIFE SCIENCES

Investment in researcher Rothman raises URI profile

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The University of Rhode Island’s Institute for Immunology and Informatics, also known as iCubed, does not rely on the university to finance its faculty salaries, and none of its faculty are tenured, meaning that expansion of any individual investigator’s program is entirely dependent on whether they publish and win grants, said director Dr. Anne S. De Groot. Faculty members who win grants get more space and equipment and control their own funding.

Dr. Alan L. Rothman is one of iCubed’s most successful researchers. He also represents an investment the university made despite budget constraints to bring him to Rhode Island that is paying off in helping raise the school’s profile as a research institution.

After more than 20 years at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Rothman was recruited to iCubed in 2011, a move that immediately paid off with the transfer of $4 million in grant money to the University of Rhode Island. But there was much more to come.

“I saw an exciting opportunity to be part of an important and ambitious new initiative,” said Rothman. “Dr. De Groot and [URI President David M.] Dooley had a vision of developing a center of excellence in Providence conducting immunology research.”

Rothman is a leading researcher of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease common to the tropics that manifests in flu-like symptoms, including high fever and acute joint pain.

“The global burden of dengue is staggering,” said Rothman. “It is estimated that hundreds of millions of people get infected each year, though our data are incomplete. Fortunately, the number of deaths is relatively low, compared to malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, but dengue represents a major burden on the health care systems in developing countries.”

In July, Rothman received an $11.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in support of his research, one of the largest grants ever awarded to a University of Rhode Island researcher.

With the recent addition in September of a $9.8 million NIH Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence grant, Rothman’s combined grant award total of more than $20 million is the most ever received by a single URI researcher, according to Dooley.

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