URI awarded $12.3 million in research grants through Federal Stimulus Act

KINGSTON, R.I. – December 8, 2009 – The University of Rhode Island has been awarded 30 research grants totaling $12.3 million from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, all funded with stimulus dollars through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The grants support a wide diversity of research projects, including some in the fields of pharmaceutical science, biomedical engineering, environmental science, oceanography, psychology and nursing.

“The stimulus act has two broad goals: to stimulate job creation and make investments that have long-term benefits,” said Peter Alfonso, URI vice president for research and economic development. “Funding research accomplishes both goals. It creates and retains jobs for skilled scientists and technicians, keeping laboratories and their high-tech equipment from sitting idle; and it trains the next generation of scientists, thereby increasing the pool of highly skilled scientific workers for many years to come.”

Among the URI research projects that received stimulus funding were the following:

  • He Huang, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, $1.4 million to develop a better artificial limb;
  • Zahir Shaikh, professor of biomedical sciences, $1.28 million for the Rhode Island Network for Excellence in Biomedical and Behavioral Research;
  • Rainer Lohmann, associate professor of oceanography, $101,000 to study persistent organic pollutants in the Antarctic marine food web;
  • Philip Clark, professor of human development, $297,000 to develop intervention methods to improve health and quality of life in older adults;
  • Mark Robbins, associate professor of psychology, $247,000 to develop an intervention to increase blood donation rates among African-Americans;
  • Brad Seibel, associate professor of biological sciences, $210,000 to study the ecological physiology of pelagic organisms.

  • The stimulus act has provided for $10.4 billion in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and an additional $3 billion from the National Science Foundation. The process for obtaining that funding is lengthy and will continue into 2010. URI researchers submitted 82 grant applications, with most being submitted last spring and summer. Some are still awaiting funding decisions, so it is likely that the total number of grants funded through the act will continue to grow.

    “Science and innovation are not luxuries in today’s world; they are necessities in economies that support a robust standard of living,” Alfonso said. “While this stimulus funding has provided a much-needed boost to scientific research both locally and nationally, continued sustained investment in federal research funding must continue to be a priority. It leads to job growth in a knowledge-based economy, more money into state and local coffers, and solutions to health and environmental problems that will lead to a better quality of life for all of us.”