VCU invests nearly $4.4 million in innovative faculty to address major societal challenges – VCU News

As part of Virginia Commonwealth University’s expanding research enterprise and commitment to improving the human experience, the university is providing nearly $4.4 million in new internal funding to 55 directed transdisciplinary projects by innovative professors and scholars to address major societal challenges.

Last fall, Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health, announced his support for a new strategic research priority plan that promotes transdisciplinary innovation with the power to shape the future through transformational public impact and positions VCU as “the model of a public research university.

The One VCU Strategic Research Priorities Plan encompasses the university’s history of excellence in the arts and humanities and its advances in science, medicine and engineering, as well as its engagement with the surrounding innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem. The plan has four guiding research themes: enriching the human experience, achieving a just and equitable society, optimizing health, and supporting sustainable energy and environments.

“Truly public research universities like VCU are the institutions best placed to find answers to difficult questions and societal challenges,” Rao said. “I am thrilled to see so many faculty members on our campus embracing a culture of collaboration, leveraging their strengths to deliver projects that truly address basic translational research, clinical research, and complex societal needs. Working across disciplines enables the best and most creative minds to come together to have an exceptional impact on the communities we serve and around the world.

Over the past several months, the university’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation has overseen the creation of new internal investments and requests for faculty proposals aligned with the strategic plan. The office received 170 applications for the new funding programs: the Acceleration Fund, the Breakthroughs Fund, the Quest Fund and, in addition, in partnership with the provostship, the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Fund.

The funds came with stipulations for researchers to leverage the new funds not only to advance the goals of VCU’s research priorities, but also to secure extramural funding to advance research in those areas. While embracing VCU’s diverse strengths for inclusive excellence, applicants were encouraged to include junior faculty, students (graduate and undergraduate), and trainees from backgrounds underrepresented in the research enterprise.

“The foundation of our strength is our collaborative community of field trainers with diverse experiences across our three campuses, including VCUarts Qatar. This is critical to achieving transformative innovation,” said P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Innovation.

“Tackling research in the basic and applied sciences and the problems facing society today are so complex that the solutions are usually not readily available in a single discipline. The issues we will address through the various funding programs we have deployed will not only advance basic and applied research in STEM, health, humanities, arts and social sciences, but will also impact meaningful to the community we serve and will remain relevant across the country and the world. world.”

Funding decisions were based on recommendations from VCU’s subject matter experts, One VCU’s Strategic Research Priorities Plan Advisory Board, and a review by Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President for academic affairs; Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, senior vice president of VCU Health Sciences and CEO of VCU Health System; John Ryan, Ph.D., associate vice president for research development; and Vice President Rao.

“This effort to fund exciting, transdisciplinary research in a variety of areas spanning our priority research areas has involved colleagues from all of our campuses who have devoted much of their time to meeting and critically reviewing submitted proposals. We greatly appreciate their efforts and thank them,” the Vice President said.

The Accelerate Fund, which aims to expand VCU’s transdisciplinary research, provides support for large-scale, shovel-ready projects designed to produce measurable results in research, scholarship, and creative practice led by two or more scholars. more working in several disciplines. Projects received up to $100,000 each.

The Breakthroughs Fund also supports transdisciplinary teams, those that aim to design unique, creative and innovative large-scale approaches to address humanity’s grand challenges and achieve very specific results or show the ability to attract external investment. Projects received up to $200,000 each.

The Quest Fund, formerly known as the Presidential Research Quest Fund, has had its financial support expanded under the new strategic plan. It continues to fund new, emerging or ongoing projects in all disciplines and for faculty at all stages of their careers. Projects received up to $50,000 each.

The Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Fund will support, facilitate and enhance the creation, production and dissemination of research and creative activities in the arts, humanities and social sciences at all stages of development. Projects received up to $10,000 each.

For a complete list of selected projects and faculty researchers, visit the One VCU Research website.

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