BOSTON – The University of Massachusetts on Monday announced $865,000 in grants under the President’s Science and Technology Initiatives Fund to support seven faculty research projects ranging from climatology and wind energy to health care and laser technology.
Since 2004, the Science and Technology fund has supplied $10 million to UMass researchers, which in turn helped generate $240 million in funding from federal and private sources, UMass said. The science and technology investments have contributed to a growing university research and development budget that now totals nearly $600 million.
“With the level of the federal government’s support of R&D still in question, we must do all we can to support the university’s role in the state’s innovation economy,” said President Robert L. Caret in a statement. “We are committed to strengthening our economic engagement in strategic areas such as clean energy, the environment, life sciences and big data, and these grants are another step in that direction.”
The President’s Science and Technology Initiatives Fund, now in its 11th year, aims to accelerate research across all five UMass campuses, to position researchers to attract larger external investments, and to spur partnerships with state industry leveraging the university’s expertise.
Nearly 80 projects at UMass have been funded to date under the awards. This year’s projects receiving grants from the Science and Technology Initiatives Fund include:
UMass Cancer Avatar Institute: Dale Greiner & Giles Whalen (UMass Medical School) – A proposed multicampus institute that would provide mice engineered as “avatars” of individual human patient tumors, enabling technology developed for diabetes research to be used to integrate biomarker identification platform for multiple cancer types. Award: $125,000.
Center for Computational Climatology & Paleoclimatology: Robert DeConto & Raymond Bradley (UMass Amherst) – An effort that brings together academic scientists and engineers, industrial researchers and users of high-performance computing resources to the issue of climate change by applying “big data” computational analysis. Award: $104,000.
Center for MicroBiome Research: Beth McCormick (UMass Medical School) – This project proposes to develop a center of research and education for the “microbiome,” the term used to describe the ecosystem of the 100 trillion bacteria in the human body, in collaboration with UMass Amherst’s new Life Sciences Laboratories and the UMass Dartmouth Center for Scientific Computing and Data Visualization Research. Award: $125,000.
Mass. BioFoundry: Center for Discovery & Synthesis of Bioactive Molecules: Elizabeth Vierling & Susan Roberts (UMass Amherst) – This initiative establishes a “biofoundry” with the goal of discovering valuable molecules from unique plant and microbial species and developing processes by which they can be produced in quantities sufficient for medical or industrial applications. Award: $150,000.
Experimental Center for Environmental LIDAR: Supriya Chakrabarti (UMass Lowell) – A proposed multicampus, multidisciplinary center of excellence to develop environmental monitoring technologies via new, multiwave/multicolor “light-detection and ranging” research and applications. Award: $150,000.
Next Generation Biomarker Development Pipeline Program: Jill Macoska (UMass Boston) – This award expands the scope of the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy, a joint effort with Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to create a first-of-its-kind “RNA-based” biomarker test platform. Award: $75,000.
UMass Center for Advanced Coatings: Mazdak Tootkaboni & Mehdi Raessi (UMass Dartmouth) – This grant will help faculty pursue development of a center to conduct joint research with UMass Lowell’s Advanced Composite Materials & Textile Research Lab to develop cost-effective, erosion-resistant coatings for the protection of polymer composite structures using newly created protective coatings. Award: $136,000.
In addition to the major awards, Caret also awarded a $25,000 planning grant to support a project by David Kazmer at UMass Lowell that would establish a center for industry-university cooperative research in the area of 3-D printing materials, supply-chain and industrial processes.