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9 local researchers receive Science Trust grants

Lucy Crespo, CEO of the Trust detailed the results of the Small Research Grants program, which has managed to subsidize nearly 20 researchers since 2014. (Credit: José R. Madera)

Nine local researchers were announced Tuesday as the winners of the 2017 edition of “Small Research Grants Program” sponsored by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust.

Among the issues at the center of Puerto Rico’s scientific research and development community are the role of a drug in the progression of inflammatory breast cancer, variants of an individualized therapy for asthma and the pace of geographic development faults in western Puerto Rico.

Those are the subjects of some of the research projects that have just received grants through the Science Trust’s program that seeks to provide funding to local researchers to increase their chances of getting federal or private external funding for their proposed R&D efforts. Each researcher receives up to $70,000 for one year for their research projects.

Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo said in this third edition, six of the winning proposals were projects in the area of biotechnology and natural sciences, two in environmental sciences, and one in renewable energy.

She explained that the program seeks to support researchers to strengthen their proposals and increase their chances of achieving success and obtain federal funds for the development of their research.

“With this program we support economic development to maximize Puerto Rico’s participation in the global knowledge economy,” she said. “We want these funds to help our scientists compete on equal status against large-scale proposals on the federal and private sector level,” Crespo said during a news conference Tuesday.

This year’s winners are:

  • Miguel Acevedo, of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus with his project “Space Complexities in the dynamics of vector-borne diseases: theory and applications of malaria on lizards and humans”;
  • José E. García-Arrarás, UPR-Río Piedras, with his “Role of microbiota in intestinal regeneration” project;
  • Eduardo Nicolau, UPR-Río Piedras, with his “nanocomposites based on nanocellulose for removal of emerging pollutants: water remediation strategy” project;
  • Tugrul Giral, UPR-Río Piedras, with his project on “subtropical bee longevity and its response to seasonal changes;”
  • Michelle Martínez-Montemayor, of the Universidad Central del Caribe, with her project on “The role of Metadherin in the progression of inflammatory breast cancer;”
  • Yomaira Pagan-Torres, of the UPR-Mayagüez Campus, with her project “Moving toward a design of heterogeneous catalysts for the production of polymer bio-based building blocks;”
  • Harold Saavedra, of the Ponce Health Sciences University, with his project “Investigating whether unregulated mitotic kinase mediates in the aggressive nature of breast cancer among Puerto Rican women;”
  • Kenneth Hughes of the UPR-Mayagüez, with his “Rhythm and development style of faults in western Puerto Rico-Integration of stratigraphic, geo-morphic and isotopic approaches;” and,
  • Edu Suárez-Martínez of the UPR, Ponce Campus, with her “Variants PAR-2, a step toward individualized asthma medicine” project.

“We seek to attract Puerto Rican scientists, and from around the world, to become the hub of worldwide research and this program is an important step to achieve it,” Crespo said.

“Therefore, we invest, we facilitate and develop the capabilities that advance Puerto Rico’s economy and welfare of its citizens through companies based on innovation, science, technology and industrial base,” she added.

Some 300 scientists and entrepreneurs have applied for the subsidy program that has already benefitted more than 100 local researchers.

“The funds have accelerated the R&D efforts of our researchers and generated intellectual property, companies, patents and external funds,” said Greetchen Diaz, director of the Research Grants Program.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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