Author: Jessica McBride

START Preliminary Proof of Concept Fund

Dear Colleagues,

Through a generous grant provided by the CTNext Higher Education Fund last year, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has been administering an early stage translational research funding program called the START Preliminary Proof of Concept (PPOC) Fund. Under the grant, funding is provided to investigators at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), University of Bridgeport (UB), and UConn on a competitive basis.

The START program aims to support the preliminary validation of innovative early stage technologies that have possible commercial potential and is designed to advance those technologies to be more attractive for additional funding. Proposals for the START PPOC Fund are welcomed from across all disciplines for early stage projects that may one day result in inventions and technologies that address unmet needs and have potential for commercial application.

As we wrap up the first year on funding, I would like to take a moment to recognize recipients from these institutions and ask that you join me in congratulating them on their efforts to commercialize technologies developed in the course of their academic research. For a full list of recipients and project information, visit the OVPR website.

For more information about the competition, visit the program website.

Thank you for helping to foster the culture of excellence in your schools/colleges, departments, and centers that allows UConn faculty to engage in research, scholarship, and creative activities at the highest levels. 

 

 

Cheers,

Radenka

Celebrating UConn Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities

As we begin a new semester at UConn, I would like to reflect on our past academic year and share with you the excitement, successes, and progress we made in that time. As a public research university that engages globally in the creation of new knowledge, we measure our success by the impact of our scholarly and educational outcomes, research, innovation, and the creative work of our students and faculty. In the last few years, we have brought people together around shared goals across campuses and disciplines, an accomplishment that is palpable at UConn and has been critical to the success of our land-grant mission.

Our three consecutive years of growth in total awards have borne out the value of our collective efforts.

Thanks to the tireless work of our faculty, postdocs, students, and staff, our new extramural awards for FY19 reached a three-year high of $266.2M. In FY17, our total new awards were $184.5M and in FY18, they were $258M. UConn Health received over $100M in new awards this past fiscal year reaching an all-time high. Our combined efforts represent a 44% increase over three years. We also saw upward trends in our entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem, with a record 39 high-potential startup companies joining UConn’s Technology Incubation Program, and a ranking of 93rd worldwide in the number of US patents issued for UConn inventions. It is a matter of great satisfaction for me to have helped position entrepreneurship and innovation as an equal mission for our faculty alongside teaching, scholarship, research and creative work.

Our committed focus on seed funding, proof of concept grants, and awards to support the arts and humanities has contributed to STEM and non-STEM excellence. In FY19, our office contributed $2.3M to internal funding programs and an additional $100K to support grant writing workshops and resources. We are thrilled to see engagement, collaboration, and distinction from all areas of the University, whether it be STEM, non-STEM, or a collaborative hybrid, and that these combined efforts are producing growth in research and extramural awards.

I would like to highlight a few new initiatives launched by the OVPR in FY19 that supported faculty success:

  • Convergence Awards for Research in Interdisciplinary Centers (CARIC): Support development of collaborative interdisciplinary teams to bid for major (>$5M) federally funded initiatives, such as research centers.
  • Support of UConn Human Rights Institute with two postdoctoral fellowships in collaboration with the Schools of Engineering and Business.
  • Program in Accelerated Therapeutics for Healthcare (PATH): In partnership with the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, aims to accelerate the translational pathway to convert discoveries into new medical therapeutics. The program seeks to quickly develop novel approaches focusing on well validated molecular targets for a specific disease area with an unmet treatment need in the current commercial marketplace.
  • Scholarship and Collaboration in Humanities and Arts Research Program (SCHARP): In partnership with the Humanities Institute, SCHARP supports innovative works in scholarship and creative activities in the arts and humanities that have the potential to transform a field of study, impact the common good, or chart a new direction in scholarly, creative, or artistic direction.
  • STEAM Innovation Grant: In partnership with the School of Fine Arts, STEAM encourages innovative collaborations between the arts and STEM disciplines. Projects funded by this grant may result in publications, exhibitions, performances, academic symposia, or other research outcomes.
  • Stamford Innovate, a new internship program that connects talented UConn students with opportunities in startups in one of the fastest growing regions of the state.

If you want to learn more, click here for a full list of our internal funding programs.

As educators, we all take great pride in our students’ successes, and I wanted to take a moment to recognize some new student projects that are truly remarkable. In collaboration with the Office of the Provost, the OVPR supported a student-led podcast called In Vivo. With regular interviews about science, the arts, current events, and other topics, In Vivo highlights the amazing faculty, students, and staff that give UConn life. The show is conducted out of UConn’s WHUS studio and is run entirely by UConn students. Check it out and consider subscribing for future episodes to learn more about UConn researchers.

Another new initiative is World Poetry Books to support its mission of publishing and vigorously promoting a minimum of six books of exceptional poetry in translation each year. This support offers our students the opportunity to gain hands-on, professional publishing skills, and establishes UConn as home of a preeminent publisher of exceptional world literature.

While sharing accomplishments is important, we also want to increase transparency and continue to maintain open lines of communication as we push to raise UConn’s research profile. In addition to sharing research and tech transfer metrics on the recently revamped UConn Research website, we encourage faculty and staff to reach out with suggestions regarding new opportunities and unmet needs. It is only together – as a team – that we will continue to drive the growth of scholarship, research, and creative pursuits at UConn.

I’d like to conclude with a personal note of gratitude. I cannot thank all of you enough for giving me the opportunity to work with so many talented, hardworking, and committed colleagues. To my staff, I am deeply honored to serve as VPR and grateful for your support, continued improvement, and service to our faculty and students. At the end of a hard day, I find great inspiration in the knowledge that UConn’s faculty and staff – whether they be musicians, chemists, or scholars of law or other disciplines – are some of the world’s most innovative and active researchers. Thank you for making UConn a special place with a vibrant community of caring, collaborative people.

We are opening a new chapter for UConn with a new President who is focused on our excellence, strengths, and new opportunities. I look forward to this journey with all of you, and please remember my door is always open!

Cheers,

Dr. Radenka Maric

Vice President for Research, UConn/UConn Health

Important Information from the NIH and NSF

Dear Investigator,

On July 10th, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a reminder on NIH Policies on Other Support and on Policies related to Financial Conflicts of Interest and Foreign Components.  This was followed on July 11th by a Dear Colleague Letter on protecting research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) from NSF Director, Dr. France Córdova. These notices relate to the ongoing concerns regarding foreign influence in federally funded research.

In response to these publications, the OVPR recommends that any collaborations with foreign entities or individuals, or appointments with foreign entities (including foreign talent or similar programs) be disclosed to the NIH or NSF program officer, your Dean, and the OVPR (contacts and additional information listed below).

The OVPR has posted additional guidance on our site regarding Active and Pending Support and Foreign Collaborations. For any questions or for guidance on this and other related matters, please contact:

Thank you for your cooperation,

Radenka Maric, PhD
Vice President for Research
UConn/UConn Health

Important Information from the NIH and NSF for UConn/UConn Health Investigators

The NSF Letter references the draft NSF Proposal and Award Policies & Procedures Guide published in May 2019.  Clarifications in the draft Guide related to current and pending support and biographical sketches include:

  • Providing information for all current and pending support irrespective of whether such support is provided through the proposing organization or directly to the individual.
  • Expanding examples of current and pending support to include non-profit organizations and consulting agreements.
  • Reporting all projects and activities requiring a time commitment (no minimum has been established), even if the support received is only in-kind.
  • Appointments should include any titled academic, professional, or institutional position whether or not remuneration is received.

The Dear Colleague Letter also states the NSF will be issuing a policy that NSF personnel and Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assigned personnel cannot participate in foreign government talent-recruitment programs.

The NIH Notice reminds applicants that in regards to Other Support, they must:

  • List all positions and scientific appointments, both domestic and foreign, held by senior/key personnel which are relevant to an application including affiliations with foreign entities or governments such as titled academic, professional, or institutional appointments whether or not remuneration is received, and whether full-time, part-time, or voluntary (including adjunct, visiting, or honorary).
  • Report all resources and other support for all individuals designated in an application as senior/key personnel – including the program director/principal investigator and other individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they request salaries or compensation. All current support for ongoing projects must be included, irrespective of whether such support is provided through the applicant organization, through another domestic or foreign organization, or is provided directly to an individual who supports the senior/key personnel’s research efforts.
  • Report all current projects and activities involving senior/key personnel, even if the support received is only in-kind (e.g. office/laboratory space, equipment, supplies, employees), including, but not limited to, foreign financial support, research or laboratory personnel, lab space, scientific materials, selection to a foreign “talents” or similar-type program, or other foreign or domestic support.
  • Provide the total award amount for the entire award period covered (including facilities and administrative costs), as well as the number of person-months (or partial person-months) per year to be devoted to the project by the senior/key personnel.

The Notice also reminds applicants of the need to determine whether projects include a foreign component, defined as the existence of any “significant scientific element or segment of a project” outside of the United States including:

  • Performance of work by a researcher or recipient in a foreign location, whether or not NIH grant funds are expended and/or
  • Performance of work by a researcher in a foreign location employed or paid for by a foreign organization, whether or not NIH grant funds are expended.

If a significant portion of a project will be conducted outside the United States, then there is a foreign component and NIH prior approval is required.  If all project activity is conducted within the United States, but there is a non-U.S. resource supporting the project, it must be reported as other support.

UConn Health’s Human Subjects Protection Program Receives Reaccreditation from AAHRPP

Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to inform you that we received official notification from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP) of continuing Full Accreditation for the UConn Health Human Subjects Protection Program. The process to obtain reaccreditation is an important, but complex one, which required team work from many stakeholders. I would like to take this opportunity to thank faculty and staff, IRB members and staff of the HSPP, members of the Scientific Review and Conflicts of Interest committees, Office of Clinical and Translational Research Services, Sponsored Program Services, Research Pharmacy and Research Safety, and many others who are committed to ensuring that we have an outstanding human subjects program every day. They are to be commended for their dedication and efforts in maintaining our continued accreditation. Their work ensures appropriate care of clinical trial participants, which in turn makes possible the high quality research conducted by UConn Health investigators.

Sincerely,

Wesley G. Byerly, Pharm.D.
Associate Vice President

Program in Accelerated Therapeutics for Healthcare (PATH) Awards

Dear Colleagues,

I’m very pleased to announce that the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has recently finalized award decisions for the inaugural cycle of the Program in Accelerated Therapeutics for Healthcare (PATH).  PATH is a partnership that includes the OVPR, the School of Pharmacy, and the School of Medicine to accelerate the translational pathway for researchers to convert their discoveries to new medical therapeutics. Under PATH, funding is provided to academic research programs designed to quickly develop novel therapeutic approaches focusing on well validated molecular targets for a specific disease area with an unmet treatment need in the current commercial marketplace. Projects focusing on a wide range of therapeutic interventions (small molecule, biologic, antibody, peptide, gene therapy) are eligible for consideration.

Given your leadership role in the University, I want you to be among the first to hear the results of this competition so you can join me in congratulating the awardees.  Seven PATH grants were awarded in two categories after a highly selective competition:

 

PATH Trailblazer Grants – $75,000

Xiuling Lu, Pharmaceutical Science
Cutting Cancer at Its Root: Inhibition of Acute Leukemic Stem Cells Using Doxorubicin-Loaded Nanoparticles

Jessica Rouge, Chemistry
Determining the Pharmacology of a Novel DNAzyme-therapeutic Formulation for the Treatment of Allergic Airway Disease

 

PATH Ascent Grants – $10,000

Brian Aneskievich, Pharmaceutical Science
Establishing Protein Conformational Flexibility to Enhance Next-Step Drug-Screen Targeting

Nicholas Leadbeater, Chemistry
Towards Development of Novel Therapeutics for Treatment of Toxoplasmosis

Rajkumar Verma, Neuroscience, UConn Health
Discovery of Novel Purinergic P2X4 Receptor Antagonist for the Treatment of Ischemic Stroke

Simon White, Molecular and Cell Biology
Screening for Small Molecule Inhibitors against Enterovirus D68 2C Helicase

Ming Xu, Genetics and Genome Sciences, UConn Health
Discover Drugs Targeting Cellular Senescence to Improve Healthspan and Lifespan

For more information about PATH, visit the program website.

Thank you for helping to foster the culture of excellence in your schools/colleges, departments, and centers, that allows UConn faculty to engage in research, scholarship, and creative activities at the highest levels.

Cheers,

Radenka

OVPR Quarterly Reports – FY19Q2

Dear Colleagues,

Now that data have been finalized, I would like to provide you with several reports relating to sponsored program activity—both research and education/service—managed by Sponsored Program Services within the Office of the Vice President for Research at UConn and UConn Health. Please visit the OVPR website to view the following reports: https://ovpr.uconn.edu/news/quarterly-reports/

  • List of Proposals Submitted: FY19 2nd Quarter
  • List of Awards Received: FY19 2nd Quarter
  • Proposals, Awards, Expenditures: FY14-FY19Q2

In the reports, data are presented in two ways: by the PI’s Academic Home Department and by the Managing Department or Center/Institute. Please refer to the first pages of the reports for definitions and information regarding the data. Should you have any questions regarding these quarterly reports, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please note that we have included an additional Summary of Sponsored Program Activity, which includes the Effective F&A rate on awards. This information provides a snapshot of our activity as compared to the same period last year.

The OVPR continues to seek creative solutions that allow UConn and UConn Health to grow our research enterprise through federal funding, industry partnerships, and collaboration with foundations. I am confident we can continue upward trends by continuing to work together, aggressively applying for extramural funding, and pursuing new channels of support for the tremendous research, scholarship, and creative activities taking place every day at UConn and UConn Health.

Thank you for your continued commitment and contribution to our students, to your research and scholarship, and to UConn/UConn Health.

Sincerely,
Radenka

 

Dr. Radenka Maric
Vice President for Research
UConn/UCH

2019 CARIC Award Recipients Announced

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that two teams have been selected for funding in the inaugural cycle of CARIC (Convergence Awards for Research in Interdisciplinary Centers).

CARIC supports the development of collaborative, interdisciplinary teams bidding for major federally funded research initiatives. These initiatives can include large, multi-million-dollar research grants or even entire research centers.

2019 CARIC Awards:

  • David Rowe, Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Skeletal Development
    Bed to Bench (BTB) Collaboration for Skeletal Research
  • Yu Lei, Castleman Distinguished Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
    Exposure, Health Effects, Sensing and Remediation of Emerging Contaminants Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center

The CARIC program will provide these projects with funding of up to $150,000 to support planning, outreach to strategic partners and proof-of-concept research for a year, with the possibility for renewal. This initial funding allows researchers to develop more competitive bids for prestigious national awards.

To learn more about CARIC, visit the website of the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Sincerely,

Dr. Radenka Maric
Vice President for Research
UConn/UConn Health

OVPR Quarterly Reports – FY19Q1

Dear Colleagues,

Now that data have been finalized, I would like to provide you with several reports relating to sponsored program activity—both research and education/service—managed by Sponsored Program Services within the Office of the Vice President for Research at UConn and UConn Health. Please visit the OVPR website to view the following reports:

  • List of Proposals Submitted: FY19 1st Quarter
  • List of Awards Received: FY19 1st Quarter
  • Proposals, Awards, Expenditures: FY14-FY19Q1

In the reports, data are presented in two ways: by the PI’s Academic Home Department and by the Managing Department or Center/Institute. Please refer to the first pages of the reports for definitions and information regarding the data. Should you have any questions regarding these quarterly reports, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please note that we have included an additional Summary of Sponsored Program Activity, which includes the Effective F&A rate on awards. This information provides a snapshot of our activity as compared to the same period last year.

The OVPR continues to seek creative solutions that allow UConn and UConn Health to grow our research enterprise through federal funding, industry partnerships, and collaboration with foundations. I am confident we can continue upward trends by continuing to work together, aggressively applying for extramural funding, and pursuing new channels of support for the tremendous research, scholarship, and creative activities taking place every day at UConn and UConn Health.

Thank you for your continued commitment and contribution to our students, to your research and scholarship, and to UConn/UConn Health.

Sincerely,
Radenka

OVPR Quarterly Reports

Dear Colleagues,

Now that data have been finalized, I would like to provide you with several reports relating to sponsored program activity—both research and education/service—managed by Sponsored Program Services within the Office of the Vice President for Research at UConn and UConn Health. Please visit the OVPR website to view the following reports:

  • List of Proposals Submitted: FY18 4th Quarter
  • List of Awards Received: FY18 4th Quarter
  • Proposals, Awards, Expenditures: FY14-FY18Q4

In the reports, data are presented in two ways: by the PI’s Academic Home Department and by the Managing Department or Center/Institute. Please refer to the first pages of the reports for definitions and information regarding the data. Should you have any questions regarding these quarterly reports, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please note that we have included an additional Summary of Sponsored Program Activity, which includes the Effective F&A rate on awards. This information provides a snapshot of our activity as compared to the same period last year.

The OVPR continues to seek creative solutions that allow UConn and UConn Health to grow our research enterprise through federal funding, industry partnerships, and collaboration with foundations. I am confident we can continue upward trends by continuing to work together, aggressively applying for extramural funding, and pursuing new channels of support for the tremendous research, scholarship, and creative activities taking place every day at UConn and UConn Health.

Thank you for your continued commitment and contribution to our students, to your research and scholarship, and to UConn/UConn Health.

Sincerely,
Radenka

UConn Health, Jackson Lab To Collaborate On Statewide Pain Consortium

UConn Health Hospital Tower

UConn Health, UConn Schools of Medicine and Nursing, and The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) have announced the creation of the Connecticut Pain Consortium, a translational pain research and education collaboration which is the first of its kind in the Connecticut medical community.

The Connecticut Pain Consortium will focus on a problem of national importance: the need for fundamental and translational research on the causes and manifestations of pain, pain management, and education about pain and its ramifications.

The Connecticut Pain Consortium will examine this critical medical issue through several specific initiatives:

  • Establishing a portal for pain-related health care data in Connecticut
  • Providing a platform for basic and translational pain research collaborations that helps leverage state and national resources
  • Leveraging research to provide cutting-edge pain management solutions in clinical and population health settings
  • Raising awareness about the many facets of pain, its management, and the many possible related ramifications, such as opioid addiction
  • Developing a curriculum around pain research and management for health care providers

The consortium will be led by Professor Dr. Reinhard Laubenbacher, a joint faculty member at UConn Health and The Jackson Laboratory, who also serves as Director of the Center for Quantitative Medicine at UConn Health.

To learn more, visit the Connecticut Pain Consortium website.