Governor, Secretary of Technology Cite Research at George Mason

Posted: February 15, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

Key differences between healthy and diseased cells are being examined at George Mason’s Center for the Study of Genomics in Liver Diseases, located at the Prince William Campus. This research could give patients greater options in dealing with liver disease.

At the same time, at Mason’s Fairfax Campus, a different kind of ailment—stage fright—is currently under the microscope at the Center for Arts and Wellness. What causes it? What happens to the body when it occurs? What can be done to help a performer better cope with it?

On the Arlington Campus, economist Vernon Smith, recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and his team of researchers at the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, continue to evaluate the performance and function of markets to help analysts gain a deeper understanding of the actual workings of real-world markets.

These are just three diverse examples of the hundreds of research projects now under way at George Mason. Collectively, they are building the depth and complexity of Mason’s research commitment.

This activity has caught the eye of Eugene Huang, Virginia’s secretary of technology. Speaking in last week’s ExecutiveBiz, he noted that Mason’s total research funding has grown at twice the national average.

“George Mason has clearly made great strides in a very short timeframe. It is also home to centers of excellence in areas such as information security, bioinformatics, and critical infrastructure protection,” Huang said. “I believe George Mason can become a world-class research institution.”

According to Christopher Hill, Mason’s vice provost for research, research activity and funding have increased steadily and dramatically each year at Mason since the mid-1990s. “Mason,” Hill notes, “has matured in its research activities and has gotten involved in more sophisticated and complex arenas.”

Gov. Mark Warner, also quoted in ExecutiveBiz, said, “George Mason has been an essential part of Northern Virginia’s growth over the last 20 years. With two Nobel laureates, I think George Mason’s potential to become a major research institution is very good.”

Since 1995, Mason’s research dollars have grown from approximately $20 million to its current total of more than $65 million.

One key to Mason’s growth in this area is that it has focused much of its research activity on the needs of its surrounding region, while engaging in projects that are also meaningful both nationally and internationally. Homeland security, transportation, neuroscience, and Internet security are examples of how the university is linking its academic initiatives with the expressed interests of Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., that will also yield benefits to the nation and world at large.

“Both government officials and private sector leaders are convinced that doing research in a region or a place contributes to economic development and industrial growth in that place,” explains Hill. “Developing new industries and creating new jobs is crucial in a region like ours, and in the center of that should be an active research university.

“It is part of our hope,” Hill continues, “that through our research, Mason will develop new ideas that drive the next wave of economic activity in our region.”

Mason, he says, plans to continue working closely with the private and public sector within the Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C., region in identifying other potential areas for research on important problems of national concern that find particular expression in the needs and desires of the region.

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