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Mason research on target to surpass $200 million for a record-breaking year

October 15, 2020   /   by Colleen Kearney Rich

Illustration by Joan Dall'Acqua/Creative Services

George Mason University anticipates reporting more than $200 million in sponsored research expenditures for fiscal year 2020, which would be an all-time high for the university and shows significant progress toward the university’s strategic goal of $225 million by 2024.

This is a 10% increase over 2019 when the university reported $186 million in sponsored research expenditures to the National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey.

The final numbers, which will be available in November, include funds provided by federal and state government entities, industry, nonprofit organizations and the university itself.

“Great research universities tackle the grand-challenge problems of our time. We call it research of consequence for a reason—we face serious consequences as a planet if we cannot solve our most pressing global challenges,” said Mason President Gregory Washington. “We have grown our research portfolio significantly in recent years as more entities seek out productive partnerships with the largest and most diverse public university in Virginia.”

“Mason has strategically pursued the goal of elevating research through supporting our community while they engage in high-impact research, scholarship and creative activities across all of our disciplines,” said Aurali Dade, interim vice president for research, innovation and economic impact. “The continued growth in expenditures—more than doubling since setting the goal in 2014—is very impressive and reflects the deep commitment and expertise of our faculty and their willingness to engage in new partnerships on emerging topics.”

Among the prestigious grants Mason has been awarded in fiscal year 2020 are:

Mason was awarded $15 million in grant funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to establish a Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN) Coordinating and Translation Center. Mason joins 11 research institutions named to the JCOIN, which is part of the National Institutes of Health’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. The center, led by University Professor Faye Taxman, will be responsible for the management of logistics, engagement with practitioners and other key stakeholders in the justice and behavioral health fields, and dissemination of products and key research findings.

A multidisciplinary team of Mason researchers is part of a groundbreaking approach funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that could change the face of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate education in the future. Mason bioengineering professor Siddhartha Sikdar leads the team that has received a nearly $3 million NSF Research Traineeship grant to train more than 100 PhD students, including some with disabilities, to use state-of-the-art data analytic methods and wearable computing technologies based on novel transdisciplinary competencies, applications and practice curriculum.

The Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the planet, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the changes to come. With the support of a $3 million NSF grant, Mason engineering professors Elise Miller-Hooks and Celso Ferriera, Carter School professor Sara Cobb, and a team of multi-institutional researchers are diving into how melting ice in the Arctic will affect the people, habitats and social fabric of this remote region.

Mason researchers have also been on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus. More than 100 Mason faculty and student researchers are doing their parts to help thwart the COVID-19 pandemic, inventing new diagnostic tools, as well as exploring promising therapies and vaccine delivery systems. The university received seven NSF Rapid Response Research grants designed to get researchers into the field and lab quicker than the traditional grant process.

Learn more about Mason research.