18:00 PM

Ohio State provides additional investment to spur innovation

The Ohio State University continues to advance interdisciplinary, issues-based research, today announcing two new Centers for Innovation and three Innovation Groups. These centers and groups are the first of what will be a multi-year, $16.7 million investment by the university in research that tackles global issues.

"Without a doubt, solving our most pressing problems will require new, collaborative approaches that incorporate the full breadth and depth of faculty expertise," said President E. Gordon Gee. "Applying the university's great range of resources to address fundamental human and community needs is at the very core of our noble public purpose."

"Ohio State researchers have their fingers on the pulse of today's most consequential scientific, social, and cultural issues," said Provost Joseph A. Alutto. "The interdisciplinary cooperation made possible by our Centers for Innovation and Innovation Groups will accelerate the discovery of solutions to those issues. And that will underscore Ohio State's importance as a national and international research engine."

Of the total investment, $15.36 million is direct investment over the three to five year span of the programs. The remainder is dedicated to staffing and other administrative expenses.

Center for Innovation proposals came directly from the faculty and were required to involve at least 30 faculty members drawn from a minimum of eight colleges. The two new Centers for Innovation will receive $750,000 yearly for a five-year period with the expectation that each center will become self-sufficient at the end of the funding period.

The International Poverty Solutions Collaborative involves more than 60 faculty members from 14 colleges. Recognizing the multifaceted nature of poverty, faculty members will work to develop and evaluate comprehensive, culturally-sensitive solutions that allow individuals, families, and communities to thrive. The center will clarify the interrelations among economic, social, cultural, educational, health, and political factors that combine to create poverty conditions. Four research teams will focus on promoting health and well-being, designing physical environments, developing business and economic opportunities, and building families, schools, and communities. These teams will interact with four community laboratories, spanning urban, rural, and international settings.

The Food Innovation Center: Foods for Global Security, Safety, and Health Promotion involve more than 80 faculty members from 12 colleges. Feeding the rapidly growing world population (a projected 8 billion by 2025) will require a 40 percent increase in the world food supply, at a time when 40 percent of the current supply is wasted due to challenges in economics, safety, health, nutrition, security, technology, and food policy. The Food Innovation Center brings together a multidisciplinary group of researchers to attack the food crisis by addressing four themes: designing foods for health, ensuring food safety, advancing biomedical nutrition in disease prevention and health promotion, and global food strategy and policy.

Innovation Group proposals also came directly from faculty and were required to involve at least 10 faculty members drawn from a minimum of three colleges. The three new Innovation Groups will receive $20,000 yearly for a three-year period. The Innovation Groups selected have the potential to grow into Centers for Innovation.

Complexity in Human, Natural, and Engineered Systems (more than 20 faculty members from 8 colleges). Complex systems are everywhere, from anthills to ecosystems, from small towns to metropolitan regions, and from distributed robotics to air traffic control networks. This Innovation Group will bring theorists and empirical researchers from many disciplines together to evaluate the dynamics and output of a wide array of complex systems, and to create models that can predict the behavior of these systems. This group will work to position Ohio State as a leader in the rapidly emerging field of complexity science.

Ohio State Center for Ethics and Human Values (35 faculty members from 11 colleges). Every problem confronting us, both individually and globally, has important ethical dimensions, which are critical considerations in any proposed solutions. The Ohio State Center for Ethics and Human Values encompasses researchers from across the campus whose work involves foundational or applied ethics in a forum that will create a new capacity to address emerging ethical issues in all areas of life. In addition, the group will facilitate ethics instruction at both undergraduate and graduate levels, promoting an "ethics across the curriculum" approach to ethics education.

Computational Modeling of Global Infectious Disease Threats and Policy (14 faculty members from 7 colleges). The emergence, reemergence, and spread of infectious diseases among humans and animals represent a complex and critical global problem. Combating the spread of infectious disease requires the collaboration of researchers in public health, medicine, biology, public policy, and social science—as well as mathematics and statistics. This group will develop cross-disciplinary means of discovering the biological, clinical, environmental, and social causes of the spread of infectious diseases via computational modeling of pathogens and hosts, and will engage present and future scientists and policy makers in a dialogue to enhance the control of infectious diseases.