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UPR receives $7.8M grant from NIH for Molecular Sciences and Research Center

University of Puerto Rico (UPR) President Dr. Luis Ferrao-Delgado announced that the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the academic institution $7.8 million to establish the Center for Incubation and Technology Transfer (UPRCITT) at the Molecular Sciences and Research Center and carry out collaborative scientific research in various disciplines.

“With the approval of this federal proposal, we will renovate an entire 20,000-square-foot floor in our Molecular Sciences and Research Center (MSRC), located in the heart of San Juan. This will foster an innovative and technological economy that generates businesses and jobs in Puerto Rico, whether in manufacturing or other sectors. Housing UPRCITT within MSRC is a significant step toward realizing this vision. In addition, this project includes a strategic collaboration with Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce,” Ferrao-Delgado said.

Dr. José Lasalde-Dominicci, director and principal investigator of the NIH grant, stated that UPRCITT would offer collaborators access to leading scientists on the island, advanced scientific instrumentation and laboratories compliant with good laboratory practices.

Scientists joining UPRCITT will interact with multidisciplinary research groups specializing in nanotechnology, chemistry, biosensors, vaccine development, cell biology, natural products and structural biology, among others.

The MSRC’s ongoing efforts will support UPRCITT in attracting new researchers, small businesses and collaborators from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. 

An example of this is the establishment of the Clinical Bioreagents Center (CBC), an NIH-funded collaboration between the UPR and Puerto Rico’s biotechnology firms in the development of a prophylactic HIV vaccine and other emerging startups. 

UPRCITT will house research facilities that comply with best manufacturing practices and flexible laboratory spaces to transform basic research concepts into pilot commercial projects.

The primary objectives of UPRCITT are to drive Puerto Rico’s economic development by developing an innovation ecosystem that fosters the creation and incubation of startups by offering modern laboratories and essential facilities to promote collaboration between biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and UPR researchers, and to facilitate workforce development by training underrepresented students, and postdoctoral fellows in innovation and entrepreneurship.

UPRCITT will promote Puerto Rico’s economic development via research conducted in these facilities, both in job creation on the island and in derivative projects that could be licensed and commercialized nationally; forming strategic industry alliances; offering services; and helping capitalize on discoveries in Puerto Rico and abroad. UPRCITT will serve as a training center for entrepreneurship and innovation for underrepresented students hoping to enter the U.S. scientific workforce.

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