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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI, Brown secure $6.75 million federal grant to stimulate life sciences research in Rhode Island

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 25, 2006 -- The University of Rhode Island and Brown University have teamed up to secure a $6.75 million federal grant through the National Science Foundation that will stimulate life science research at the state’s 11 institutions of higher education and promote life science-based economic development in Rhode Island.

The grant was announced at a press conference April 10 attended by URI President Robert L. Carothers, Governor Donald Carcieri, Senator Jack Reed, URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences Dean Jeff Seemann, and state legislators.

“This funding will serve to strengthen the state's innovation capacity and provide the latest equipment, training and staff to propel Rhode Island forward," said Reed, who was instrumental in securing support for the application. "This grant will help us to maintain a competitive edge in today's global marketplace and provide the basis for economic development in the future."

The grant was provided by the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a National Science Foundation initiative designed to assist those states that have historically received less than 0.7 percent of NSF research funding annually.

The Rhode Island EPSCoR partnership will use the first round of funding to establish three shared core facilities for genomics, proteomics and marine life sciences research and development, including the purchase of state-of-the-art high technology equipment; hire key personnel and graduate students at various Rhode Island academic institutions; train key academic staff through the EPSCoR Academy program as well as support the ongoing management of the overall Rhode Island EPSCoR program.

At URI, the EPSCoR funding will be used to augment the University’s Genomics Sequencing Center to provide researchers and students with the standard technologies necessary for molecular and genetic life sciences research, according to Seemann. It will also establish a Center of Excellence in Marine Life Sciences at the Graduate School of Oceanography that will provide upgraded flowing seawater facilities and much needed environmental controls necessary to maintain living organisms.

Governor Carcieri has proposed that a state allocation of $1.5 million be used to magnify the positive impact of the EPSCoR award. "I believe that this critical funding represents an investment in future statewide collaboration within our science and technology communities,” he said.

The award is the result of an effort led by URI and Brown to foster and support the synergistic integration of research, education, innovation, and communications to build a strong statewide network of Rhode Island research institutions. Partner institutions include Bryant College, Community College of Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University, New England Institute of Technology, Providence College, Rhode Island College, Rhode Island School of Design, Roger Williams University, Salve Regina University, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. The grant will be received in increments of $2.25 million for each fiscal year through 2008 and administered by URI under the direction of Dean Jeff Seemann.

The National Science foundation provided URI with two EPSCoR planning grants totaling $438,000 in 2004 and 2005 which funded an 18-month planning process to develop a full EPSCoR program, including establishment of an EPSCoR governing committee. The planning grants were secured in part because URI and Brown demonstrated a $180 million combined commitment to the construction of new life science research and education buildings.