Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC)

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

Gerald Sonnenfeld Appointed VP of URI's Research, Economic Development Enterprise

Published on August 15, 2013

Gerald Sonnenfeld, vice president of the Clemson University School of Health Research and chief science officer of the Greenville Health System in Clemson, S.C., has been appointed as the next Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University of Rhode Island. In this role, Sonnenfeld will also serve as co-chair of the RI Science & Technology Advisory Council.

When he arrives in October, Sonnenfeld will lead the University's Division of Research and Economic Development, which includes serving as the chief research officer of the University, as a member of the President's leadership team, and chairing the Board of the URI Research Foundation. He is charged with providing the vision and strategic planning to develop and enhance the quality and visibility of the University's research and business development programs.

"Discovery is one of the most important parts of a university experience. It is what makes a research university, like URI, very different from a college," Sonnenfeld said in a statement. "To make sure that URI, which is very competitive now, maintains and enhances its competitiveness we need to be entrepreneurial and think a little differently."

Sonnenfeld joined Clemson University as vice president for research and professor of biological sciences in 2010. During his tenure he led the initiative to establish a healthcare research powerhouse for both the university and the Greenville Health System. In 2012 he was named vice president of what became the Clemson University School of Health Research and chief science officer of the Greenville Health System.

During his career, Sonnenfeld has been awarded more than $14 million in federal research grants and holds two U.S. patents and one from Canada. His research has focused on the effects of stress on the immune system and resistance to cancer and infection. He was one of the early researchers on the role of interferon-gamma in regulating immune responses. He has directed multiple pre-clinical studies and has been involved in clinical study development for several immunoregulatory agents. Sonnenfeld has also conducted experiments on the U.S. Space Shuttle and on Russian space program satellites.

Before joining Clemson, Sonnenfeld was the vice president for research and professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, State University of New York

"Through his experience as a scientist and his accomplishments as an administrator, Dr. Sonnenfeld has demonstrated his keen knowledge of the processes to increase funding and to leverage university research, innovation and entrepreneurship for greater economic development," said URI President David Dooley in a statement.


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