Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC)

Making Innovation Central to Rhode Island's Future Gina M. Raimondo, Governor

RI Research Alliance Grant Program to Invest Additional $1.4 Million in Collaborative Research

Published on September 24, 2008

The Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council's (STAC) Rhode Island Research Alliance program today announced that it will invest an additional $1.4 million in research that promotes collaboration across the state's academic and commercial institutions.

The program will continue to support catalytic, collaborative research that 1) represents discoveries likely to deliver value to Rhode Island's citizens 2) has strong technology development and/or commercialization potential and 3) is well-positioned to attract follow-on funding from federal agencies, corporations and/or foundations.

Continuation of the Research Alliance and Collaborative Research Award program, launched in 2006, was made possible through support from Governor Donald L. Carcieri and the Rhode Island General Assembly.

Rhode Island's research community has showed great enthusiasm for the program. Since its inception, STAC has received nearly 100 proposals from researchers at Rhode Island higher education institutions, hospitals, government agencies and private companies. STAC has used a competitive granting process similar to that used by the National Science Foundation to award funding to 17 teams representing 55 investigators from 24 Rhode Island institutions pursuing collaborative projects in medicine, engineering, chemistry, biology, oceanography and environmental science.

The funding has provided support for projects such as the development of high-tech toys to aid children with diseases such as cerebral palsy, using virtual reality to improve the design of prosthetic limbs and the development of new marine-based drugs to fight a common and deadly hospital infection.

Proof of the program's catalytic nature came when one of the 2007 funding recipients received a grant from the National Institutes of Health totaling $1.4 million to continue their pioneering testicular cancer research. Other awardees have also seen measurable success. One team working to isolate novel therapeutics to fight infections that are resistant to nearly every existing antibiotic has utilized data gathered under the grant to secure nearly $200,000 from private foundations to continue their work. Others teams have grants pending.

Awardees in 2008 continue to do valuable work, such as a unique partnership between emergency room physicians at Rhode Island Hospital and engineers at Brown University who are collaborating to create a reliable, fast and affordable way to diagnose blood ailments such as anemia and jaundice. Using STAC funding, the team has been experimenting with spectroscopy - a technique that evaluates how objects reflect and absorb light - to develop a reliable, quick and non-invasive device to analyze blood.

Awards can also be used to acquire state-of-the-art instruments that give research teams throughout the state access to the most sophisticated technologies available to conduct their experiments. The NSF/EPSCoR Proteomics Facility recently acquired an Isothermal Titration Calorimeter and a Mass Spectrometer that scientists statewide can access to process new data and substantiate findings from preliminary research, essential steps in securing funding for larger projects. By providing this type of infrastructure funding, STAC assists Rhode Island researchers compete for federal research funding, bringing new resources into the state and strengthening Rhode Island's role as a hub for biomedical research.

Grant guidelines are available here. To apply, researchers must submit a preliminary proposal due October 23, 2008 and a full proposal due November 6, 2008. The awards will be announced in January 2009.

Click here to read the Providence Business News Article

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