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Ohio State to enhance research to spur economic growth

COLUMBUS ? In an effort to strengthen fields for science, technology, math, engineering and medicine, while helping to enhance Ohio's economic growth, The Ohio State University will participate in an initiative to redirect funding to targeted research areas within the university. Ohio State will join other Ohio public universities beginning this July in reallocating a portion of state funding for doctoral programs as part of a new Economic Growth Challenge/Innovation Incentive recently unveiled by the Ohio Board of Regents.

Over the next 10 years, Ohio State will reallocate 1.5 percent of state funding for doctoral programs that ? when combined with a match in state funds from the Ohio Board of Regents ? will contribute as much as $16 million for targeted research activities.

“Ohio State is well positioned in a number of key research areas to address important challenges affecting our nation that can lead to economic growth here in our state,” said Ohio State Provost Barbara R. Snyder. “Many of our doctoral programs in the science, technology, math and engineering fields are among the top in the country, and we believe that these additional funds will elevate our programs even further while making important contributions to our society.”

Initially, the university will target research initiatives which were selected after a rigorous campus-wide review and include graduate programs that enjoy national recognition. The seven strategic research areas defined by the university include:

Climate and Water Resources: The University's Climate, Water and Carbon Program will receive increased funding to study the impact of water resources on the sudden shift in global temperatures. An industry relations program will be developed enabling organizations to take advantage of Ohio State research innovations and technologies, and the university has approached Central State University about the possibility of a collaboration involving its Water Resources Management Program.

Materials Research: Materials research has generated countless advances in areas such as electronics, information technology, automotive and aerospace transportation, bio-materials and nanotechnology. The university plans to build upon its success in materials research to create an internationally known program that can have a direct and real impact on the state's economy.

Clean, Sustainable Energy: The ability to find clean and sustainable sources of energy remains one of society's greatest concerns. Ohio State will conduct comprehensive, interdisciplinary research, education and outreach programs that, together, result in adequate sources of clean energy. The university will conduct increased research on clean coal, nuclear energy, hydrogen production, fuel cells and solar energy.

Mathematical Biosciences: The role of mathematical analysis has led to remarkable advances in biological sciences in recent years, allowing researchers to investigate human DNA, identify new organisms and fight health problems. Ohio State hopes to become the nation's leading institution in mathematical biosciences, creating interdisciplinary teams to develop mathematical models for important biological issues and use the models to make new predictions about biology to guide further laboratory research.

Plant Sciences: Ohio State ? and its Plant Molecular Biology/Biotechnology program ? have long been a leader in plant sciences, and the university plans to build upon its success to improve applications in agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, and engineering. Plant-based products have historically been an economic strength in Ohio, contributing significantly to the state's economy.

Cosmology & Astro-Particle Physics: Ohio State will establish a Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics to build upon its national reputation in studying the powerful sources of energetic particles in the universe.

MicroRNA Genes in the Diagnosis, Prognosis, Prevention and Therapy of Cancer: Micro-RNAs (miRs) are a newly discovered family of genes that play key roles in controlling gene expression. Ohio State researchers have discovered that the loss or mutation of two miR genes contribute to the development and progression of the most common form of human leukemia. Programs have been developed at the university to develop miR-based diagnostics and pharmaceuticals for cancer prevention, detection and treatment.

The Ohio State University is one of the nation's leading public research universities. With annual research expenditures now exceeding $550 million a year, Ohio State is ranked 9th among the top 10 public research universities in the nation by the National Science Foundation based on the amount of sponsored research. Ohio State also leaped 15 places to 24th in the rankings of total federal research expenditures in 2004 ? the largest jump of any top-100 university.