President’s Office grant targets expanded ties with life sciences industry

Jim Capistran of the UMass Innovation Institute has been awarded $150,000 from the President’s Office for a project aimed at increasing industry engagement with the campus’s life sciences research community.
The award from the President’s Science and Technology Initiatives Fund was one of six announced July 15 by President Robert L. Caret. Totaling $830,000, the grants will support six promising research projects from across the five-campus system.
In May, the Amherst campus received $95 million in capital funding from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center fund to fit out and equip a substantial portion of the new $157-million Life Sciences Laboratories. This building will house three new research centers led by faculty and dedicated to partnering with the region’s life sciences industry, including Baystate Medical Center, and precision manufacturing companies to develop innovative products and services. The new centers will focus on personalized health monitoring and biometric sensing, bioactive drug delivery, and drug target validation technologies.
Capistran’s project will act as the launch pad for the campus’s efforts to attract industry partners, coordinate faculty meetings, organize life sciences events and seminars, and establish a campus presence in the Cambridge-Boston area.
Caret also announced grants to faculty at the Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell campuses as well as the Medical School in Worcester.
“At a time when federal research funding is becoming increasingly competitive, each of the projects funded this year directly support the state’s innovation economyin strategic areas such as life sciences, defense, clean tech and Big Data,” Caret said. “These funds provide the support faculty researchers need to spur partnerships with industry and to advance the research priorities of the University and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
This marks the 10th year for the Science and Technology Initiatives Fund. Since 2004, the fund has awarded $9.1 million to UMass researchers, which in turn has helped to attract $213.5 million in research funding from outside sources. The fund also has been instrumental in helping the University grow its research and development budget to nearly $600 million and has aided the creation of several important R&D centers in the state, including the Center for Hierarchical
Manufacturing in Amherst. Nearly 70 projects have been funded to date.
Photo: Jim Capistran