Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) has awarded more than $420,000 in grants to support research on crime forecasting in the United States, Chinese multinational corporations, African-American brain health, Autism Spectrum Disorders, traumatic brain injury-induced maladies, and intestinal cell dysfunction. Six research projects under RU-N’s new program, Initiative for Multidisciplinary Research Teams (IMRT) Awards, received individual grants ranging from $26,720 to $80,000.  The total number of awardees is three times the amount originally announced in the request for proposals. The goal of the IMRT Awards is to promote interdisciplinary research and collaboration among RU-N faculty, departments, schools, and centers as well as other anchor institutions.

“The IMRT Awards further advance the priorities articulated in our strategic plan, Rutgers University–Newark: Where Opportunity Meets Excellence, by supporting the establishment and growth of research collaborations among faculty to enable them to compete effectively for external funding,” said Provost Todd Clear. “We were so impressed with the caliber of the proposals we received and delighted to be able to choose half of those submitted.”

The proposals were chosen through an objective, competitive process. Particular emphasis was placed on the following parameters: new teams with clearly defined roles; complementary expertise of each faculty member; meaningful involvement of graduate students and/or postdoctoral fellows; potential for sustained external funding; emphasis on developing a research program (and not merely a research project); involvement of both junior and senior faculty; participation of multidisciplinary teams spanning departments and schools; potential application/commercialization; leveraging of existing infrastructure when possible (or contribution to its growth); and creative use of novel technology when appropriate.

Prospectively, the Office of the Chancellor expects to grant two IMRT Awards annually. This year’s awardees are:

“Forecasting Crime Emergence and Persistence” (an interdisciplinary research team will investigate how social contagion causes crime clustering, even after controlling for environmental influences), submitted by Associate Professor Joel Caplan of the School of Criminal Justice, $75,250 awarded;

“Chinese Multinational Companies Abroad: Strategy, Operation, and Impact” (a panel of scholars will discuss numerous issues associated with Chinese multinational corporations in a global economy), submitted by Professor Chao Chen, Department of Management & Global Business/Rutgers Business School, $26,720 awarded;

“Brain Injury Induced Alzheimer’s-Like Disease” (this collaborative endeavor will develop new therapeutic compounds to prevent the self-eating process of neurons following a traumatic brain injury), submitted by Assistant Professor Radek Dobrowolski, Department of Biological Sciences/Faculty of Arts and Sciences, $80,000 awarded;

“Synergistic Exploration of Paneth Cell Plasticity in Epithelial Pathogenesis” (this team will focus on the Paneth cell, an intestinal cell type, to determine what extent its dysfunction contributes to leading digestive diseases such as colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases), submitted by Assistant Professor Nan Gao, Department of Biological Sciences/Faculty of Arts and Sciences, $80,000 awarded;

“The Rutgers University – Newark Center of Excellence in Community-Based Participatory Research on African-American Brain Health” (five distinct but interconnected research projects will address critical factors that influence African-American brain health: sleep, aging, exercise, stress, and depression), submitted by Professor Mark Gluck, Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience/Faculty of Arts and Sciences, $80,000 awarded; and

“A Novel Model for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Semaphorin Signaling Regulates Neuronal Morphology Leading to Altered Brain Circuitry and Behavioral Output” (this interdisciplinary research team will examine the neurobiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder), submitted by Assistant Professor Tracy Tran, Department of Biological Sciences/Faculty of Arts and Sciences, $80,000 awarded.

The IMRT Awards will further the collective efforts of the following schools, departments, centers, and institutions:

Rutgers University–Newark                                  Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
School of Criminal Justice                                         Cancer Institute of New Jersey
School of Law                                                           Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Rutgers Business School                                          New Jersey Medical School
College of Arts and Sciences                                    Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Center for Molecular Behavioral Neuroscience         University Behavioral Health Care
Office of University-Community Partnerships

Rutgers University–New Brunswick                    Other Institutions
School of Management and Labor Relations             New Jersey Institute of Technology
Graduate Programs in Molecular Biosciences           Tufts University
                                                                                  University Medical Center of Princeton
                                                                                  Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System

More About 2015 IMRT Awards Recipients

Photo credit: Theo Anderson