WPI and the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have launched the Collaborative Seed Funding Grant Program to nurture new research programs undertaken jointly by faculty members at both institutions. The program will award as many as six seed grants of up to $25,000 each this year. The new program was announced recently by Bogdan Vernescu, vice provost for research ad interim at WPI, and Jean King, vice chair of research at the UMMS, at a Research Collaboration Celebration Event held at the Albert Sherman Center on the UMass Medical campus.
"The collaborative seed funding initiative seeks to establish partnerships between WPI and UMass Medical that will lead to pioneering scientific discoveries and promote the development of innovative technologies," Vernescu said. "We have undertaken this new partnership with a long-term view of diversifying our combined research funding portfolio, expanding student training, and enhancing the impact of our discoveries."
The new seed grants will fund collaborative teams that each include one or more investigator from each institution. They are designed to leverage the combined strengths, expertise, and facilities of the two schools to address novel research questions. Projects that bring together scientists from more than one discipline, including but not limited to the life sciences, medicine, the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, informatics, and computer science, will receive the highest priority for funding.
The funding program is part of a larger effort to facilitate closer ties and more extensive research partnerships between WPI and the medical school, Vernescu noted. A shuttle has been running between the two campuses since mid-January, making three daily trips each way between Bartlett Center and the Sherman Center. Now in the planning stages are workshops to researchers from both institutions learn more about competing for funding from the National Science Foundation (to be held on the UMMS campus) and the National Institutes of Health (to be held at WPI).
The recent event at UMass Medical, attended by more than 150 faculty members from WPI and UMMS, included a reception and poster showcase featuring more than 20 faculty collaborations. It was designed to both celebrate the research and clinical collaborations already under way between WPI and UMMS and encourage new collaborations. Among the speakers was Bengisu Tulu, associate professor in the Foisie School of Business, who talked about a new collaboration with Sherry Pagoto, associate professor of medicine at UMMS. With a $2 million award from the NIH, the researchers are developing an interactive smartphone application to help patients struggling with obesity and emotional eating.
The Collaborative Seed Funding Grant Program has a two-step application program. Research teams interested in being considered should submit letters of intent by April 8, 2015. Full proposals will be due from teams selected to continue by May 20. For more information about the program and instructions on submitting a letter of intent, please read this document.