UofL reaps big dividends from research investments

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    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville’s relatively small investments in new research ideas and projects has resulted in an average return on investment of 1,777 percent.

    Since 2000, UofL has spent $11 million in seed money for faculty-led research projects. Faculty in turn used that money to secure another $208 million in funding from outside sources like the National Institutes of Health or private investors.

    “The world understands that our faculty are developing new technologies and doing groundbreaking research,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “Our faculty just needs a little money to leverage the big bucks that not only get their ideas off the ground, but pay dividends for the university and our local economy as well.”

    The pilot research program funding has also led to 77 patents, 47 technologies licensed and 32 startup companies launched.

    The return on investment numbers for UofL research spending were compiled by the office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation and cover the past 15 years—a period when Kentucky state funding for higher education and university research declined. But during that same period UofL provided strategic support for the new ideas of its faculty, staff and students, awarding 445 grants ranging from $5,000 to $225,000.

    Some examples of faculty researchers who used small research initiation grant awards to attract prestigious research grants include:

    • Suzanne Meeks, psychological and brain sciences – $2.1 million to study psychological changes in nursing home residents
    • Nobuyuki Matoba, pharmacology and toxicology – $1.5 million to study plant-based pharmaceuticals
    • Ayman El-Baz, bioengineering – $1.4 million to develop diagnostic techniques for lung cancer
    • Carolyn Klinge, biochemistry and molecular genetics – $2.9 million to investigate molecular mechanisms in breast and lung cancer
    • Terry Scott, special education – $6 million for research and personnel development

    “The real winners, though, are the rest of us whose lives will improve because of the new discoveries in medicine, bioengineering and other fields” Ramsey said.

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    Mark Hebert
    Following a 28-year career as a radio and television reporter, Mark Hebert joined the University of Louisville as the Director of Media Relations in 2009, serving as the main spokesperson. In 2015, Mark was named Director of Programming and Production. He’s now producing and hosting a radio show about “all things UofL”, overseeing the university’s video and TV productions and promoting UofL’s research operation. Mark is best known for his 22 years as the political and investigative reporter for WHAS-TV in Louisville where he won numerous awards for breaking stories, exposing corruption and objectively covering Kentucky politics. In 2014, Mark was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.