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$13.5 MILLION IN FEDERAL, STATE FUNDS
FINANCE BIOLOGICAL, ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH

By Gail Hairston

 

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"This technological infrastructure will create an atmosphere in which the best researchers can work with the best equipment to produce the best research. I believe success in the research laboratory will be reflected in dozens of new industries for Kentucky."

-- Lee T. Todd Jr.,
president,
University of Kentucky

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May 13, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. today announced a $13.5 million grant for statewide, interdisciplinary research in the biochemical and environmental sciences. The funds include $9 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and $4.5 million in state funding through the Kentucky Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

The funds will be shared by three Kentucky universities - UK with $7.2 million, the University of Louisville with $4.8 million and Murray State University with $1.5 million - "but I fully expect the entire Commonwealth will be the primary beneficiary of this investment," said Todd.

At UK, the funds will be used to renovate facilities, purchase leading-edge research equipment, hire faculty researchers and support staff, and establish a statewide consortium of Kentucky researchers. UK's three components will focus on genomics, proteomics and environmental science.

"This technological infrastructure will create an atmosphere in which the best researchers can work with the best equipment to produce the best research. I believe success in the research laboratory will be reflected in dozens of new industries for Kentucky," Todd said.

Todd added that the investment will help "build a knowledge-based economy for future generations."

In addition to the renovation of facilities and the purchase of new equipment, the funds will enable UK to add six new faculty positions, as well as necessary support staff, said John Connolly, NSF-EPSCoR project director and principal investigator for the statewide program.

In the genomics and proteomics components, funding will enable the development of integrated facilities including state-of-the-art equipment for a statewide advanced study of genes and proteins.

"Scores of life scientists programs in Kentucky are eager to exploit the benefits of genome-enabled research, but current facilities and expertise are inadequate," said Connolly.

Under the direction of Brian Rymond, professor of molecular and cellular biology in the Department of Biology, $1.6 million will be set aside for equipment and researchers focusing on genomics.

An additional $1.3 million will be invested in proteomics, administered by principal investigator Thomas Vanaman, professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry UK College of Medicine. Researchers in the fields of biology, statistics, chemistry, molecular and cellular biochemistry, anatomy and neurobiology, obstetrics and gynecology, agronomy, animal sciences, entomology, horticulture, pharmaceutical sciences, and molecular and cellular pharmacology will benefit.

The environmental component, administered by Gail Brion, associate professor of civil engineering, will establish the Environmental Research and Training Laboratories (ERTL), a centralized, state-of-the-art facility to be shared by environmental scientists statewide, as well as the Kentucky Environmental Research and Education Consortium. With funding totaling $2.3 million, the goal is to significantly improve the quality, scope and national competitiveness of environmental research in the Commonwealth. Researchers in the UK College of Engineering, departments of civil, chemical and agricultural engineering; the College of Arts and Sciences, departments of geological sciences and chemistry; and the Department of Agronomy in the College of Agriculture will be involved.

Another primary component, with nearly $1.4 million in EPSCoR funds, will encourage the careers of Kentucky college students through Undergraduate Research Fellowships for Minorities and Under-represented Groups and through Research Enhancement Grants for Undergraduate Institutions in Kentucky.

"This NSF-EPSCoR award will allow UK to continue building research infrastructure in high priority areas," said Acting Vice President for Research Jim Boling. "We are particularly pleased that it will have a major impact not only at UK but statewide in the research areas of functional genomics, cellular and molecular proteomics, nano- and micro-electro-mechanical systems, structural biology, and environmental sciences."


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