University of Rochester

University Provost Named to National Academies of Science Council to Explore Science Policy Issues

September 10, 2009

Ralph W. Kuncl, provost and executive vice president of the University of Rochester, has been named to the National Academies of Science's Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR), a platform for leaders in government, academia, and business to discuss scientific issues of national importance.

Kuncl joins a prestigious council that includes three presidents of the National Academies, several leaders in various national industries, and four other academic leaders, all of whom are university presidents.

Some of the issues Kuncl and his colleagues expect to explore during his three-year appointment to the GUIRR council are the challenges of turning academic research into commercial enterprises, the training of the nation's scientific workforce, and the effects of globalization on U.S. research.

Created in 1985, the GUIRR provides a forum for top government, university, and industry leaders to understand each other's needs and perspectives, and to define and explore critical issues related to those needs. In addition, the roundtable is charged with framing the next critical questions stemming from its debates and carrying the awareness of the issues and their possible impacts to the public.

Kuncl, a national leader in the neurosciences, was a professor of neurology, pathology, and cellular and molecular medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine from 1983 - 2002. While there, his lab discovered the glutamate transporter defect in the disease commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. The discovery helped lead to the first effective treatment for the disease.

At Rochester, Kuncl recently orchestrated a public/private alliance between the University and a leading international corporation to create what will be the world's largest center of high performance computing devoted to health sciences. He is a graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles and earned his Ph.D. and M.D. degrees from the University of Chicago.

Kuncl has authored over 150 scholarly publications, edited scholarly journals, earned numerous fellowships, and received many honors, including the Frank Ford Award for outstanding teaching in neurosciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Distinguished Service Award of the University of Chicago. He has trained numerous post-graduate and undergraduate students who have gone on to named fellowships and research awards themselves. His scholarship includes highly cited research in motor neuron pathobiology, neuromuscular disorders, drug development, and federal funding for research in higher education.

At Bryn Mawr College, where Kuncl became provost in 2002, he helped create a variety of new interdisciplinary tracks, minors, and majors, nearly tripled the institution's federal research grant support, and created a method for reassessing the college's strategic plan as part of a regional re-accreditation.