Federal stimulus funds to Penn

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President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, providing $787 billion for job creation and investment in energy, health care, infrastructure and education. Of that amount, $21.5 billion has been set aside for research projects.

So far, Penn has been allotted nearly $52 million in research funding from the stimulus package. The funds are supporting more than 140 ongoing and new research projects in gene therapy, robotics, public education, brain disorders and the effects of tobacco use.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has empowered the University’s stellar research community to continue groundbreaking studies in medicine, engineering and the natural sciences that will positively impact the nation’s economy, as well as empower faculty to make advances in the health and well being of people around the globe,” says Steven J. Fluharty, Penn’s vice provost for research.

Penn faculty have submitted 1,177 grant proposals totaling more than $850 million in requested funding from such federal institutions as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Defense. The bulk of research awards has yet to be revealed.

Among the Penn researchers to receive funds for ongoing projects are:

Katherine Schultz, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education, was awarded $1.4 million by the NSF to prepare teachers for the challenges and opportunities of urban public schools.

Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, a pathologist in the School of Dental Medicine, was awarded more than $500,000 by the National Institute of Mental Health to continue her research into the faulty molecular mechanisms of the brain that lead to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Using a National Cancer Institute stimulus grant of $1.3 million that extends his research, Ian Blair of the School of Medicine will continue to study exposure to tobacco smoke and the 3,800 chemical components that make it a leading cause of death in America.

Katherine Kuchenbecker, recipient of a 2008 NSF Career Award and an assistant professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, has received $500,000 to continue her research into haptography, the science of capturing and recreating the feel of real surfaces.

Originally published on September 3, 2009