Diversity in science matters to breakthroughs. When more scientists with varied backgrounds and experiences fill laboratories and collaborate on teams, outcomes in innovation and discovery surpass those of less diverse scientific groups, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)….
Pilot Program to Spur Syracuse-Upstate Medical Research Collaborations
Syracuse University and Upstate Medical University have announced a new pilot grant program to promote collaborative research activity between the two institutions that focuses on pressing biomedical and health care needs.
The pilot grant program—titled “Driving Inspiration and Innovation through Collaboration”—was initiated by SU Trustee Sam Nappi, who has provided $1.5 million for biomedical and chemical engineering to Syracuse University. A total of $500,000 of that will fund the first phase of this collaborative research program. In development since last spring, the program is designed to combine the diverse research and clinical strengths of faculty from both institutions to stimulate promising biomedical or health care-related research that is responsive to national needs.
“Biomedical and health care related research is absolutely critical to addressing some of the most profound challenges facing society today,” says Nappi, who with his wife, Carol, has established a professor position and stem cell research fund in Syracuse University’s Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering. “As our population continues to age, breakthroughs in these areas will become even more critically important. This region is so fortunate to have two strong institutions that excel in these areas, and I am hopeful that this program generates opportunities for them to pool their expertise in ways they might not otherwise have had. I would like to thank Dr. Ruth Chen, professor of practice in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, for the shared vision of growing these areas of importance at SU. I’m most grateful to Dr. Gregory Eastwood, interim president of Upstate Medical University, for his hands-on support of this collaboration. His effort to bring these institutions together was a driving force.”
The funding will support networking opportunities, matching efforts to build awareness, and pilot projects that facilitate collaborative, interdisciplinary, or translational research. Pilot grants of up to $100,000 in direct costs for up to two years’ duration will be awarded, with the bulk of awards likely to be between $50,000 and $60,000. Research teams must comprise two or more researchers or clinicians representing both campuses, and awards are expected to result in the submission of competitive proposals to external sponsors of biomedical or health care research.
“This program aligns perfectly with the University’s academic priorities that call for an enhanced focus on collaborative research and innovation,” says Gina Lee-Glauser, Syracuse University’s vice president for research, who played a strong role in facilitating the initiative. “By drawing on the distinctive strengths of both institutions, it magnifies the potential for seeding research activity that simultaneously advances theoretical knowledge and enhances clinical practice.”
David Amberg, Upstate vice president for research, says, “Many of our faculty have been actively collaborating as facilitated through the Hill Collaboration between Syracuse University, Upstate Medical University, SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and the VA Medical Center. However, the Nappis’ generosity will empower Syracuse and Upstate faculty with pilot grants that are sufficiently large to develop the preliminary data to go after the kind of large federal grants that are given for transdisciplinary biomedical research. When you look at our two universities’ research portfolios you can see synergies that naturally exist in the big research powerhouses like John Hopkins, Harvard, and UCLA. We believe we can get to a much more competitive position through collaboration. In fact, if you look in the CNY region, there is a tremendous collective strength and diversity in expertise that if pooled and leveraged could make our region a research and development powerhouse.”
A two-stage review and selection process will be used, modeled after the National Institutes of Health review process but incorporating an oral presentation as used by other federal agencies. Among other criteria, proposals will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit as well as the project’s significance to and potential impact on national biomedical or health care needs. The final selections will also factor in consideration of the project’s potential to generate intellectual property or to transform the field or discipline.
Final selections will be made by a research advisory panel that will include the vice presidents for research from Upstate and Syracuse universities, Sam Nappi, and two external experts.
Faculty members, clinicians, or research scientists interested in applying for a seed grant should submit a letter of intent by October 16 and a full application by November 10. Final selections will be made by December 4.