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SDSU Receives Nearly $134 Million in Research Grants and Contracts

Includes record number of awards from National Institutes of Health
Mark Sussman (far left) looks at a computer screen as a research assistant examines a specimen.
Mark Sussman (far left) looks at a computer screen as a research assistant examines a specimen.

San Diego State University researchers continue to be among the most productive in the nation, securing nearly $134 million in research grants and contracts this year.  SDSU researchers received a total of 823 awards in 2008–2009 worth $133,794,378 — almost $3 million more than in 2007–2008.

New federal stimulus funding

The increase in funding included $1,948,137 for the first American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants received. To date, SDSU faculty and staff have received 25 ARRA grants totaling $5 million, with more awards expected in the next few months.

“Our faculty’s success in winning major federal grants is helping us through this difficult financial period,” said Tom Scott, SDSU vice president for research and graduate dean. “These awards permit us to keep our research infrastructure in place and to maintain the lab personnel who are vital to carrying out the funded projects.”

ARRA funding has helped provide additional support for researchers like Shelli McAlpine, SDSU associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

McAlpine’s work focuses on developing potent new anticancer agents. Her research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), addresses an urgent need to create an antitumor agent that can target drug-resistant cancers. One of the first ARRA award recipients at San Diego State, McAlpine received funding in the amount of $643,173 for two years, with an additional two years of funding from regular appropriations in the amount of $630,800 slated for 2011–2012. The federal funding she received not only made continuation of her research possible, but also paid for four student researcher positions in her lab.

Record number of awards

San Diego State researchers received a record number (101) of awards from NIH, with funding from that agency alone totaling $29,373,984. 

Biology professor Mark Sussman received nine awards from NIH for a total of $3.3 million for his work on cardiac stem cells. Sussman discovered a protein in the heart that helps cells survive injury and regenerate after damage. He uses cardiovascular stem cells to repair cardiac tissue after trauma. 

Dr. Roberta Gottlieb, director of SDSU's Bioscience Center, received $1 million from NIH to support her work studying the microbial basis of cardiovascular disease. Gottlieb’s research is finding ways to salvage heart muscle following heart attacks and documenting a link between gum disease and heart disease.

SDSU also saw an increase of more than $1 million in awards from the National Science Foundation. Recipients included geology professors Steven Day and Kim Olsen who received $439,749 (including $95,754 from NSF) to study three-dimensional broadband simulations of high-magnitude earthquakes.

Physics professor Fridolin Weber received a $315,000 grant from NSF for his research on neutron stars, which, at only 10 km in size, have twice the mass of the sun. Weber will study the extraordinary properties of neutron stars, which hold the key to scientists’ understanding of the properties of matter in the most extreme physical conditions.

Highest-funded recipient

The largest single recipient of funding was Caren Sax, professor of education and co-director of SDSU’s Interwork Institute, who won $5.1 million.  Sax received a total of 22 awards, which included $200,000 from the Administration for Children and Families for Project Pendleton: Military Family Support 360 Center. This new collaboration among Camp Pendleton families, youth with developmental disabilities and professionals from related agencies seeks to strengthen military families’ capacity to assist their children with developmental disabilities in maximizing their independence, productivity, integration and inclusion into the community.

Sax also received a $2.6 million grant from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to continue the California Health Incentives Improvement Project (CHIIP), which assists people with disabilities to have fewer barriers when seeking employment and to find more employment opportunities.

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