September 28, 2001
CONTACT: Jeanne Oswald
(609) 292-4310

Higher Education Commission Awards Funds to Increase
High-Tech Research Capacity at New Jersey Universities

The Commission on Higher Education today approved $5 million in grants for six New Jersey universities to boost their capacity for biomedical and other high-tech research. Enhanced academic research capacity will augment the state's prominence as a hub for the high-tech industry and ensure its role as a leader in innovation and progress.

"New Jersey's higher education institutions play an obvious and vital role in economic progress through their direct support of key state industries," said James E. Sulton, Jr., executive director of the Commission. "There is no question that the immediate success of last year's grant program made it a state imperative to continue funding in 2002."

Allocated for the second consecutive year, the Biomedical and Other Technology Research Fund assists New Jersey's public and private research universities to enhance their research capacity, compete nationally for top-notch faculty, and effectively garner additional federal grants and contracts. The capacity-building funds will be used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment, launch new research in biomedical and other high-tech areas with commercial and health care implications, and address New Jersey industry needs in the areas of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, and information technology.

Funds were awarded to: New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rutgers, The State University, Seton Hall University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The capacity building funds were targeted to these six universities because they are New Jersey's leading recipients of external grant dollars and are the only state institutions designated as research, doctoral, or specialized (medical) institutions in the nationally recognized system of institutional classification developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The Commission allocated 80% of the available funds to the state's public research universities and 20% to the independent universities. Institutional grants ranging from approximately $181,000 to $2.3 million were based upon each institution's current level of external research funding and its graduate enrollment.

"The discoveries and potential outcomes of academic research affect not only New Jersey's quality of life and economy, but that of people worldwide," said Dr. Sulton.

The grants for university research build on a key recommendation in New Jersey's Plan for Higher Education.

A summary of each institution's proposal to build research capacity follows.

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) proposes to use its allocation of $587,537 to acquire a new transmission electron microscope for its Materials Science and Engineering program. This microscope will greatly enhance the resolution of microscopy available to university researchers, enabling them to distinguish the structure of materials at a scale of a few nanometers. Characterization of materials at the nano-scale is fundamental to the advanced materials program but also supports research in such areas as applied life science, information technology, and sustainable systems. NJIT's programs in materials science and engineering emphasize three areas of research: particle technology, advanced materials for electronics and photonics, and polymer composites and biomaterials. The new electron microscope will keep these initiatives competitive with other world-class programs and serve as a resource for the statewide research community.

Rutgers University proposes to use its allocation of $2,327,623 for seven multidisciplinary projects in food sciences; biotechnology; large-scale, wireless sensor networks; biological, mathematical, and physical sciences; molecular and cellular pharmaceutical sciences; and information processing in complex biological systems. The various projects consist of acquiring and building advanced instrumentation, upgrading laboratory facilities, and recruiting outstanding new faculty with complementary research expertise and proven ability to secure external funding. Individually and collectively, the projects will augment Rutgers' significant current levels of external funding and address the workforce needs of New Jersey's pharmaceutical, biomedical, high?technology agricultural, and information technology industries. Commercial applications of projects will strengthen interactions with such industries and spur creation of new companies.

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) proposes to use its allocation of $1,084,840 to purchase advanced equipment and instrumentation for research on human disease through molecular genetics and optical and magnetic resonance imaging. The majority of the funding will be used for a two-photon laser confocal/photolysis system, DNA preparation robot, and gene chip arrays. The equipment acquisitions will strengthen UMDNJ's research capabilities in the study of genetically engineered mice as models of human disease, genetic disorders such as cancer, subcellular structures and processes in living cells, and brain function in neruodegenerative disease. By providing access to new, more efficient and powerful technologies, the equipment acquisitions are expected to assist in retaining and recruiting leading faculty in biomedical research.

Princeton University proposes to use its allocation of $576,439 to further develop the technical infrastructure needed to conduct genomic research in proteomics, the study of cellular proteins important for normal cell function and their role in causing or preventing cancer. The funds will be used for equipment - primarily a transmission electron microscope - and the initial support of technical personnel. Princeton has made a major commitment to genomics, including recruiting new faculty, constructing a new research center, and developing specialized technical facilities.

Seton Hall University proposes to use its allocation of $242,316 to acquire equipment and instrumentation vital to research projects in audiology, biology, and physics. One of their purchases will be a mid-infrared laser system. The new equipment will enhance the capability of faculty research groups and enable them to be more competitive in attracting external funding from federal as well as corporate and foundation resources. It will also enable the university to train its students with state-of-the-art equipment and to forge alliances with New Jersey's biomedical, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries.

Stevens Institute of Technology proposes to use its $181,245 allocation to build research capacity in the area of security for information systems. The institute will use the funds to develop cooperative research capabilities and facilities among the Schools of Technology Management, Engineering, and Sciences and Arts. These facilities will support interdisciplinary investigations of the issues preventing secure access to and sharing of information over networks. The interdisciplinary activities will supplement traditional single investigator research programs and assist Stevens in establishing a major research and education presence in information systems security.

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