UMass Amherst Secures $5.5M NSF Grant to Propel Research Translation Initiatives

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded The University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) and its collaborative partners a significant $5.5 million Accelerating Research Translation (ART) grant.

This award, which is currently in its inaugural year, aims to support faculty and student researchers in translating their academic work from laboratory settings into practical solutions for real-world challenges. UMass Amherst is one of 18 institutions across the nation — and the only one in New England — to receive the award this year.

NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan noted the program’s commitment to empowering academic institutions in converting their research into tangible products and services that benefit society. UMass Amherst chancellor Javier Reyes expressed optimism about the opportunities this award will bring.

The university’s provost Mike Malone acknowledged the significance of NSF’s confidence in UMass Amherst researchers. He says the award affirms the potential fortheir work to translate into products and social enterprises that can address vital real-world problems. The four-year grant will support Seed Translational Research Projects, postdoctoral fellow and graduate student training for translational research careers, and the establishment of a network of ART ambassadors.

ART Ambassadors will serve as role models, peer mentors, and advocates for impactful translational research, contributing to a nationwide network of ART Ambassadors from all funded institutions. The initiative prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring the active involvement of traditionally underrepresented groups in all aspects of the project.

Massachusetts Secretary for Economic Development Yvonne Hao praised the award’s potential to grow the innovation economy in western Massachusetts, emphasizing the region’s appeal for budding entrepreneurs. MLSC vice president of economic development and partnerships Jeanne LeClair congratulated the IALS team, predicting a positive impact on innovation, translational research, and entrepreneurship in Western Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will act as the Institution of Higher Education Mentor (IHE), leveraging its research translation expertise to assist the UMass Amherst team. Roman Lubynsky, executive director of the New England Regional Innovation Node at MIT, will lead as mentor, facilitating access to MIT’s best practices in translational enterprise development.

Peter Reinhart, founding director of IALS, said this award provides an unprecedented opportunity for building a sustainable ecosystem for translational research. The project aims to equip scientists and engineers, from undergraduates to senior faculty, with the skills to translate research excellence into impactful outcomes.

Reinhart will lead the project as the principal investigator, alongside co-principal investigators Provost Mike Malone, Burnley Jaklevic, director of the UMass Amherst Technology Transfer Office, and Karen Utgoff, director of IALS Venture Development.

Partner organizations include MassVentures, the Berkshire Innovation Center, the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, and innovation accelerator FORGE of Somerville, Massachusetts. With a project start date of Feb. 1, the team is actively laying the foundation for future endeavors.

MultiLingual Staff
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