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Federal funds roll in

BY NICK PEDLEY | OCTOBER 01, 2009 7:20 AM

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UI researchers received a significant financial boost Wednesday when they learned they will receive the vast majority of National Institutes of Health grants coming to Iowa. The grants bring the UI’s total stimulus funding to over $46 million.

The National Institutes of Health is giving the UI 103 grants out of the 113 it is awarding to the state as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This is a real success to the state,” said UI spokesman Tom Moore. “Iowa doesn’t have the per-capita populations like maybe a California does, so this really shows what [the UI’s] robust research enterprise can accomplish.”

Before Wednesday’s announcement, the UI had received 14 grants for research from stimulus money. The university will use the money over the next three years.

Microbiology Professor Michael Apicella, whose department received more than $1 million, said microbiology will use the money for clinical research to better understand diseases.

“The money allows my department to have more undergraduate Honors students, as well as more graduate students in the lab,” he said. “Overall, this is great for the university and great for medical research.”

Iowa’s regent universities and research centers had little time to submit applications, Moore said, but UI officials felt their submissions had great potential.

“The whole grant process can be very demanding, but the UI felt we sent in some very strong applications,” Moore said.

Iowa State University received seven grants from the funding.

Allen Miller, a ISU professor of plant pathology, said the money would help his department properly finish its study on a plant virus.

“I already had a grant through NIH, but it wasn’t enough to do the study correctly,” Miller said, noting he is the only one in his department to receive the funding. “This money will help fill the gap.”

UI professor Thomas Cook, who specializes in international training and research in the UI occupational and environmental health department, received more than $40,000 in grants for his department.

Cook said the money will fund a semester’s tuition for international students from central and eastern Europe, who come to the UI to study environmental pollution management.

Thanks to the stimulus funds, the department can double its number of international students to 10, in addition to expanding the program to teach them how to effectively manage nonprofit organizations in their homelands.

The NIH has handed out 12,000 grants with stimulus funds to institutions across the country.


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