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First Anniversary of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
$171 Million in Research Funding for Penn
March 2, 2010, Volume 56, No. 24

On the first anniversary of the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the University of Pennsylvania has received more than $171 million in awards that fund more than 348 studies in gene therapy, robotics, public education, neurological disorders, the origins of cardiovascular disease and more.

Approximately 700 different positions at Penn are funded by ARRA, allowing Penn researchers to continue studies in nearly every aspect of basic science and public health.

The stimulus act has delivered the largest increase in basic funding in the history of federally funded scientific research: $21.5 billion.  While one of the smallest pieces of the stimulus measure —less than 3 percent of the total $787 billion—scientific inquiry and discovery play an essential role in both short-term recovery and long-term economic growth. 

Since enactment, Penn faculty members have submitted more than 1,000 grant applications to institutions like the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is making a difference for Penn’s world-class researchers, students embarking upon research careers, support staff and the community at large by funding important scientific studies that will lead to the improved health and well being of millions and will spur economic growth in the long term,” Steven J. Fluharty, Penn’s vice provost for research, said.

In addition to Penn awards announced previously that fund literacy and teaching programs, research into neurodegenerative disorders, genetic susceptibility to lung cancer and the emerging field of haptography, newly funded researchers and their studies include:

• Raquel E. Gur, professor in the department of psychiatry, $10 million for a two-year project that has funded 56 full-time positions at Penn. Working with researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Gur is looking for genetic markers that may indicate mental disorders in children, a first step towards detecting problems earlier.

• Daniel Dries, assistant professor in Penn’s School of Medicine, $250,000 by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study the genetic links that contribute to the progression of hypertensive heart disease in those with kidney failure.  The award also included a teaching component under the Act’s Summer Research Experiences for Students and Science Educators.

• Daniel J. Rader, professor of medicine and director of preventive cardiovascular medicine and the Lipid Clinic at Penn, $2.4 million from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study the heart, lung and blood diseases that account for three of the four leading causes of death in the United States.  Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in both men and women worldwide, and incidence is highly correlated with levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood. Dr. Rader will target newly discovered genes for new therapies that deal with lipid disorders.

• Dan Hammer, professor of bioengineering, and Gary Koretzky, a professor of medicine, $762,608 from the National Institutes of Health for a two-year study to model the way lymphocytes, or white blood cells, make their way around the body.  The research seeks to understand how multiple chemical and cellular signals direct immune-cell traffic throughout the body.  The work represents a marriage of computational and molecular biology applied to unraveling the complexities of the immune system.

“The University of Pennsylvania, like many of the nation’s established research institutions, believes that ARRA represents the nation’s renewed commitment to science,” said  Bill Andresen, associate vice president of federal affairs at Penn.  “As the largest private employer in Philadelphia, and one of the largest private employers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Penn was ideally suited to turn this commitment into innovation that will address energy, health and economic growth.”

Penn supports one of the world’s leading research communities with more than $750 million in total research awards and had 332 invention disclosures in 2008.  Penn is the nation’s second largest recipient of NIH funding. 

University faculty perform basic research across 12 schools, including the School of Medicine; the School of Veterinary Medicine, which is a regional governmental partner in food safety and public health; and the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering and Applied Science, which focus on achieving scientific advances with practical applications to improve health, the nation’s infrastructure, technology and education.


Almanac - March 2, 2010, Volume 56, No. 24