July 19, 2010

Johns Hopkins University hits $200 million mark in ARRA grants

The Johns Hopkins University has to date been awarded more than $200 million in National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation research grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the federal stimulus package.

The 424 grants are financing investigations ranging from how the universe began to how men and women differ in their responses to the influenza virus to new strategies to prevent muscle loss caused by diseases such as muscular dystrophy. The grants also have underwritten the creation of 164 staff jobs, 32 of which are still open.

“As one of the nation’s leading research institutions with more than $1.6 billion in annual research and development spending, Johns Hopkins has taken advantage of the unprecedented influx of funds available through ARRA,” said Scott Zeger, vice provost for research. “Our faculty, imbued with a creative and entrepreneurial spirit, are using these funds to make groundbreaking discoveries and to stimulate the economies of Baltimore and the state of Maryland in the process.”

The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation received $12.4 billion as part of the stimulus act to award research grants between February 2009 and September 2010. Johns Hopkins scientists—including those at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Whiting School of Engineering, Bloomberg School of Public Health, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Applied Physics Laboratory—have since then submitted almost 1,500 proposals for stimulus-funded projects.

Among them are the following:

• Cynda H. Rushton, associate professor at the School of Nursing, received $1 million in stimulus funds to design and implement an initiative to build empathy and understanding among medical professionals who treat children with chronic health conditions. The initiative will develop and test innovative training methods that will include video documentaries of patients and families that are geared toward integrating palliative care into chronic pediatric diseases.

• Charles L. Bennett, an astrophysicist at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, has won a $5 million National Science Foundation grant—administered through the stimulus act—to build an instrument designed to probe what happened during the universe’s first trillionth of a second, when it suddenly grew from submicroscopic to astronomical size in far less time than it takes to blink an eye. The instrument, which is expected to require five years to build, will have the capability to measure the “cosmic microwave background radiation” over large swaths of the sky.

• Jin U. Kang, an electrical engineer at the Whiting School of Engineering, is using $450,000 in stimulus package money to build a tool to help brain surgeons locate and get a clear look at cancerous tissue. In some cases, Kang says, this device could eliminate the need to cut into the brain for a traditional biopsy, a procedure that can pose risks to the patient.

• Jeffrey Rothstein, a neurologist at the School of Medicine, was awarded a two-year, $3.7 million stimulus grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the biology and chemistry involved in the development and progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Rothstein’s team will use stem cells developed in a laboratory from skin cell samples taken from 20 ALS patients and five control subjects in order to test drugs that may intervene in the disease process. The team says it hopes that at the end of the two-year study, the cells generated will be available nationwide to other researchers.

Johns Hopkins has been the leading U.S. academic institution in total research and development spending for 30 years in a row.