A new round of research grants funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act geared toward medical research will deliver nearly $5.3 million in support to Oregon State University.

OSU won support for 16 projects, from $36,000 for ongoing research on human parasites, to $911,624 for new research into controlling autoimmune and allergic diseases using dioxin.

For some researchers, like professor of toxicology Nancy Kerkvliet and assistant professor Siva Kolluri, whose dioxin research was a top-dollar award, the grants come in the nick of time.

"There's a lot of people like me that have been operating on fumes," she said. My lab has been close to shutting down a few times. It takes money to run a lab and have animals."

Instead, the pair of researchers spent all day Wednesday on the phone interviewing candidates for jobs in the lab. Kerkvliet said the grant will pay for two post-doctoral researchers and three lab technicians along with support for two graduate students and part of two faculty salaries.

According to ARRA grant rules, the research had to be squeezed from five years into two, which allowed the team to hire more people.

Across the state, 160 research ventures were awarded $48.8 million in this round of funding. High education topped the list of most-awarded institutions, with Oregon Health and Science University receiving 105 grants worth more than $33 million. University of Oregon was awarded 17 grants totalling $5.09 million.

Most of the grant applications were projects that were in the top 25 percent of proposals that were not funded previously. Because of the desire to speed the application and research process, the government invited those researchers to resubmit

"People in the system know you can't possibly get things turned around in the time we were given," Kerkvliet said. "It worked out really well for us."

Contracts awarded by federal agencies have attracted less attention than other parts of the recovery package including tax cuts, aid to the state government and heavy-duty construction work.

So far this year, OSU has received more than $14 million in federal stimulus research grant funding distributed by the National Science Foundation. This most recent round adds support for some existing university health research and gives life to a host of newly-funded projects.

Matt Neznanski can be reached at 758-9518 or matt.neznanski@lee.net

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