University of Rochester

University of Rochester
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Louise Slaughter with President Joel Seligman and Provost Ralph Kuncl

February 17, 2010:
Congresswoman Discusses Stimulus Bill

Rep. Louise Slaughter joined President Joel Seligman and other University administrators today to mark the one-year anniversary of the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The stimulus bill has brought $41.8 million in funding to the University.


Recovery and Reinvestment Act LogoIn February 2009, the U.S. Congress approved and President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  This legislation contains $22 billion in research and development funding to be disbursed through the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and several other federal agencies. This amount is over and above the research funding that is distributed by these agencies on an annual basis.

“This historic infusion of funds into university-based research will not only support job creation in the near term, it will help lay the scientific foundation for future economic growth,” said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. "These investments are all the more critical to places such as Rochester, where they will help accelerate efforts to promote growth in the region’s knowledge-based economic sectors."

To date, the University of Rochester has received $41.8 million in ARRA-related funding.  These grants support a myriad of research projects in the fields of biomedical research, engineering, optics, astronomy, chemistry, linguistics, and physics.  These grants will both create and save jobs and spur innovation in several important areas of science. 

“The stimulus research funds, coupled with the Obama Administration’s commitment to dramatically increase federal support for research, will enable us to address the great scientific questions of the 21st century,” said Ralph Kuncl, provost of the University of Rochester. “These critical investments in university-based research will strengthen America’s position at the forefront of scientific discovery and technological innovation.”

University of Rochester ARRA Funding (as of 2-5-10):

Research Projects: 161

Total Funding: $41.8 million

Job Impact: Federal law requires recipients to report the number of jobs saved/created on a quarterly basis.  During the forth quarter of 2009 (Oct-Dec), 264 individuals had at least a portion of their salary paid for with ARRA funds. The full-time-equivalent is 136 positions.  To date, $5.4 million of the University’s ARRA funds have been expended.

Highlighted Awards:

Exploring the effects of BPA exposure

bpa bottles

Two studies will exam the health effects of exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).  Shanna Swan, Ph.D. with the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Environmental Medicine and Bernard Weiss, Ph.D. and B. Paige Lawrence, Ph.D. with the Department of Environmental Medicine have received separate grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.  Swan and Weiss will study the impact of BPA on the development of the central nervous system and Lawrence will examine the chemical’s effects on the immune system.

Accelerating the repair of bone and cartilage


Two separate grants from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease will focus on methods to improve and accelerate the healing in the musculoskeletal system.  Randy Rosier, M.D., Ph.D. and Xinping Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., both with the Department of Orthopedics, will investigate new molecular pathways that mobilize the body’s mesenchymal stem cells to speed repair of bones and cartilage due to traumatic injury, bone tumors, bone grafting, osteoporosis, arthritis, and wear and tear. 

Exploring the commercial applications of unique polymers

polymer imageResearchers at the University of Rochester have created a new class of shape-memory polymers, materials that can be stretched to a new shape and stay in that form until heated, at which time they revert to their initial shape.  A grant from the National Science Foundation to a research team led by Mitchell Anthamatten, Ph.D. in the Department of Chemical Engineering will enable scientists to refine this technology and explore its potential application in areas such as the development of new drug delivery systems, soft tissue prosthetics, and “smart” labels.

Customized contact lenses

contact lensGeunyoung Yoon, Ph.D. with the University of Rochester Eye Institute is undertaking research to improve the vision of individuals with abnormal corneal conditions such as keratoconus. Because these degenerative conditions cause the shape of the eye to change over time, individuals require custom fit contact lenses to correct their vision. A grant from the National Eye Institution will enable researchers to explore ways to overcome the limitations with current contact lens technologies that prevent restoration of sight to normal levels.

Increasing performance of hydrogen fuel cells

hydrogen fuel cell in carA research team lead by Matthew Yates, Ph.D. in the Department of Chemical Engineering has received a grant from the National Science Foundation which will enable them to develop a nanotechnology-based manufacturing process to create a ceramic proton conducting membrane that will be used to line the inside of hydrogen fuel cells. The novel membrane would allow lower operating temperature compared to state-of-the-art membranes, potentially lowering fuel cell cost, increasing lifetime, and improving performance.

Understanding the molecular origins of Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases

brain imageTwo separate grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will explore the molecular roots of two common neurological disorders.  Research by Gail Johnson, Ph.D. in Anesthesiology will explore the role that genetically triggered dysfunction of the mitochondria – structures within the cell that are a source of the cell’s energy – plays in Huntington’s disease.  Research by Kim Tieu, Ph.D., who is also a member of the Center for Neural Development & Disease, will investigate the mechanism by which genetic mutations in a mitochondrial protein increases brain cell susceptibility to environmental toxicants and thereby contribute the onset of Parkinson’s disease

Combating the spread of HIV

HIV virusTwo separate grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease will seek to further understand and prevent the behavioral and molecular mechanism that promote the transmission of HIV.  One project, lead by James McMahon, Ph.D. with the School of Nursing, will investigate the risk behavior of adult minority heterosexual men in New York City to better understand patterns that result in the spread of the disease. Another initiative involves efforts to target the molecular mechanisms by which the virus responsible for HIV is transmitted from one individual to another.  The team, which will be lead by Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D. and Robert Rose, Ph.D. in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Medicine, will seek to develop and test a new vaccine that provokes an immune system response against a recently identified enhancer of virus infection with the goal of blocking the transmission of the disease.  

University of Rochester ARRA Research Projects in the News

University Receives $34.5M in Federal Stimulus Funding