111 Grants and Counting: Yale Awarded $36 Million in NIH Recovery Act Funds

Faculty at Yale University have been awarded over 100 research grants totaling $36 million since February 2009, when the federal stimulus package was signed into law. Known as the American Recovery and Revitalization Act of 2009 (ARRA), the law aims to reinvigorate the economy and lay the foundation for long-term economic recovery by increasing investments in infrastructure, education, the environment and scientific research.

ARRA appropriated $10.4 billion to the National Institutes of Health, $2 billion to the National Science Foundation, and $1.6 billion to the Department of Energy. The agencies are now in the process of awarding these funds to research universities across the country, based on a peer-review process.

Many of the projects selected for funding had been approved last year, but were on hold because the agencies did not have enough money to start them. Other projects are new research ideas. Some of the projects are targeted specifically for hands-on research by high school students, teachers and college faculty.

“Yale scientists are enormously grateful for this new funding, which will create jobs while accelerating the rate of biomedical research,” said Carolyn Slayman, Sterling Professor of Genetics, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, and Deputy Dean for Academic & Scientific Affairs.

The grants to Yale will finance research on some of the most devastating illnesses facing the world today, such as from AIDS, autism, cancer, autoimmune disease, and brain disorders.

“I am proud to represent a district that is home to many of the world’s most respected and gifted research scientists,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). “The research grants awarded to institutions like Yale under the economic recovery program will not only create jobs and stimulate the Connecticut economy, but support groundbreaking and potentially life saving research.”

Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) said, “One of Connecticut’s greatest contributions to our nation and our world is the groundbreaking work being performed at fine research institutions like Yale. I’m thrilled that the stimulus bill is already having an impact, and we all look forward to the important and life-saving discoveries it will fund.”

Some of the research projects being supported by ARRA funding at Yale include:

  • Relationship between the effectiveness of chemotherapy on ovarian cancers and factors regulating the growth of the cancer cells (Gil Mor, M.D., Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences)
  • New pain-fighting drugs derived from an unlikely place: the potent venom of Australia’s infamous funnel-web spiders, which contains chemical agents that could inhibit the function of pain-sensing neurons (Michael Nitabach, Department of Cellular & Molecular Physiology).
  • Link between adolescent stress and the onset of addictive behaviors (Hilary Blumberg, M.D., Department of Psychiatry).
  • Malfunction of transfer RNAs (tRNAs)—which are intermediaries between DNA and the cell’s protein-making machinery—can lead to threats to human health such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and metabolic disorders. Understanding how these types of tRNAs are formed may help combat infectious diseases such as malaria and sleeping sickness. (Dieter Soll, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and Professor of Chemistry at Yale)

These grants are just a few examples of the growing list of research being funded at Yale, which is among the top 10 grant recipients in the nation.

The Connecticut Independent College and University Institute for Research and Public Service reported in December 2008 that independent colleges and universities contributed $6.2 billion in 2007 to the Connecticut economy.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326