Science Trust awards $700K to 10 research projects in Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and its Research Grants Program awarded a total of $700,000 evenly distributed among 10 researchers who received Catalyzer Research Grants to help them position their R&D proposals before submission, or resubmission, to private or federal agencies.
“Our Research Grants Program offers structured, systematic, and open funding mechanisms to support the development of research projects in science and technology in Puerto Rico,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.
“We represent a critical source of competitive financial support for research and commercialization activities that build the knowledge economy. We remain focused on promoting innovation and empowering Puerto Rican scientists and entrepreneurs to take Puerto Rico to the highest level of excellence,” she said.
Once the funding opportunity was announced, the candidates went through a selection process based on standard and recognized peer review procedures used by federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, the Science Trust explained.
“By strictly adhering to a comprehensive review process that assesses the scientific merit of grant applications in a process that is fair, independent, expert-driven, and free from improper influence, the Trust is able to identify and fund the most promising research or development work,” it stated.
Andreica Maldonado, director of the Research Grants Program, scientists recognize that R&D funding in Puerto Rico could increase significantly if local researchers had adequate resources to obtain preliminary data.
“Given that having preliminary data increases the possibility of ensuring a robust subsidy at the federal level this is exactly what the Catalyzer seeks to provide,” Maldonado said.
“Our mission is to be a facilitating entity that allows researchers to secure more funds to take their projects to the next level. So far (not counting these new projects), the Grants Program has awarded 120 grants for a total of approximately $13.8 million dollars and a return on investment of more than $37 million,” Maldonado said.
Of the ten funded projects, eight of them are led by women. Each received $70,000.
“It is the first time that 80% of our beneficiaries are women,” Maldonado said.
The award-winning researchers were Julie Dutil, Bianca A. Torres-Hernández, Umberto Ciri, Darlene Santiago, Magaly Martínez-Ferrer, Carla Restrepo, Catalina I. Villamil, Joselyn Del Pilar Albadalejo, Andrés Cecchini, and Imilce A. Rodriguez-Fernandez.
Among the projects financed, there are eight from the University of Puerto Rico (three from the Mayagüez Campus, three from the Medical Sciences Campus, two from the Río Piedras Campus), one project from Ponce Health Sciences University and a project from the Central University of the Caribbean.
The investigations had a wide variety of topics, including breast cancer, microbiome, offshore wind energy, opioid use disorders, prostate cancer, environmental sciences, evolutionary changes and genetic and developmental processes, renewable energy and aerospace, among others.