Inaugural University Grant Awarded; Funds Collaborative Research

Posted on June 25, 2014

A Provost’s Interdisciplinary Research Consortia Grant (PIRC Grant), the first in a series of such grants to provide University funding for interdisciplinary research and scholarship, has been awarded to Drs. Jelena Janjic of the School of Pharmacy and John Pollock of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences (BSNES).

Janjic and Pollock, with co-investigators Drs. Ben Kolber, of the BSNES faculty and Kevin Tidgewell of the School of Pharmacy will apply the grant toward their work with the Chronic Pain Consortium (CPC), a collaborative project, formed in 2011, that involves faculty members from five schools and a diverse group of disciplines. Collectively, the CPC’s research focuses on understanding how immune systems, stress and the perception of pain interact.

Dr. Alan Seadler, Associate Academic Vice President for Research

Dr. Alan Seadler, Associate Academic Vice President for Research

According to Dr. Alan Seadler, associate academic vice president for research who holds the Edward V. Fritzky Chair in Biotechnology Leadership, the PIRC Grants program aims in particular to nurture cross-school research collaborations. The grants are designed to stimulate what Seadler described as “action oriented” collaboration among the members of Duquesne’s existing and promising interdisciplinary research teams, providing them the financial assistance needed to refine their work before applying for external grant funding.

“The idea of our grant is to extend assistance in the early stages, so interdisciplinary researchers can later apply for the outside funding that will make their research endeavor a long-standing enterprise,” Seadler said. “All of our researchers at Duquesne are responsible for teaching and research, so the Provost’s Grants provide a bit of breathing space for them.”

Dr. Timothy Austin, University Provost

Dr. Timothy Austin, University Provost

The idea for the PIRC Grants evolved from the goals and earlier research activity of the CPC, according to Provost Dr. Timothy Austin. The CPC’s potential, he explained, resonated with articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education and elsewhere that he had read, which stressed that “interdisciplinary research is increasingly at the heart of major breakthroughs in the sciences—primarily because the problems we are seeking to solve do not fall neatly into the traditional disciplinary categories used for so long to define scientific scholarship.”

Austin added that beyond helping interdisciplinary researchers attract sustaining funding for their work, the PIRC Grants in the longer term will heighten Duquesne’s reputation for research. “I am confident that we have an excellent chance of moving the University forward as a center for research conducted in the most current—that is, an interdisciplinary—way,” Austin said.

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