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Science Trust grants program commits $1.8M to science, tech innovation

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As part of its mission to support scientists and researchers to take Puerto Rico’s knowledge economy to a higher level of excellence, the Research Grants Program of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust has awarded $1.8 million to 15 science and technology research projects during 2021, the organization announced.

The grants seek to impact researchers in academia, nonprofit research organizations, and the private sector. Some of the institutions that participated in this call were the University of Puerto Rico’s Medical Sciences, Mayagüez, Río Piedras and Cayey campuses, the Ponce Health Sciences University, Arecibo Observatory and, San Juan Bautista School of Medicine, among others.

Grants awarded included the Advanced Research grant with $150,000 for each project to promote cutting-edge research in various areas of science and technology.

The Catalyzer Research grant was also awarded with $70,000 for each researcher and is intended to provide a first boost to scientists and help local researchers increase their chances of obtaining federal or private funding for their Research and Development proposals.

“There are no words to describe how challenging 2020 and 2021 have been. What is clear to us is that there is no situation that will stop our researchers from continuing with scientific activity on the island; whether working on projects to mitigate the current COVID-19 situation or working on other large-scale projects that seek solutions in areas such as health, medical devices, environment, space and atmospheric science, information systems, biotechnology, among others,” said Andreica Maldonado, director of the Science Trust Grants Program.

“Currently, we continue to be the only local funding mechanism that supports research projects in science and technology. At the Trust, we remain committed to supporting our local researchers and scientists. We always look for ways to strengthen our Grants Program to continue impacting and developing the knowledge economy in Puerto Rico,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo said facilitating and promoting research is investing in the island’s intellectual property, and for the Trust, it is part of its mission. 

“Each group of researchers that we fund presents solutions to challenges that will ultimately benefit the citizens and allows us to keep those scientists in Puerto Rico, optimizing their areas of research,” she said.

“With this, we continue to facilitate and develop the capabilities that will continually advance Puerto Rico’s economy and the well-being of its citizens through innovation-based enterprises, science and technology, and its industrial base,” said Crespo.

For this year, the Trust received 97 Letters of Intent, of which 52 received an invitation to submit a full proposal. Of those 47, a total of 45 completed the submission process.

Proposals were received in the following strategic areas: Biotechnology and Life Sciences (6); Mathematics (2); Agriculture (1); Electronics (1); Environmental Sciences (1); Information and Communications Technology (1); Medical Devices (1); Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (1); and, Space and Atmospheric Sciences (1).

Some of the proposals include: comprehensive software for collaborative environmental planning; research on inhibitors in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis; research related to metabolite production and muscle physiology after spinal cord injury; adaptation of coffee plants for climate change and disease resistance; ocean salinity mapping project; and PRISMA: a Puerto Rican initiative of studies with a meteorite radar.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.
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