University Asks Legislators to Support Sweeping Research Initiative

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

By Rey Banks

In a meeting this week with Northern Virginia delegates, President Alan Merten called upon legislators to provide additional funding needed to turn George Mason into a world-class research university able to compete in the high-tech and biotech industries that are the foundation of the economic future.

In a plan that asks the state to add $5 million a year for the next five years to George Mason’s current budget, the university would specifically recruit research faculty with national and international reputations to focus on cancer biology and bioengineering; neurosciences and bioengineering; and the global biosphere.

According to Merten, the university predicts its research dollars will grow to $150 million in five years, with the goal of placing George Mason within the top 100 research universities in the nation. This return on investment will increase over time with the development of larger extramurally funded research programs and new grant funding sources.

Merten said a significant investment by the commonwealth will sustain the future growth of Mason’s research greatness, which will in turn generate additional regional economic growth.

“Already a financial powerhouse in the region, George Mason University is poised to become a premier research facility in the world,” said Merten. “The best way to achieve this goal, from an economic standpoint, is to invest in growing Mason’s already solid base of highly regarded researchers.”

A recent economic impact study conducted by Stephen Fuller and the Center for Regional Analysis shows George Mason’s total economic impact to the commonwealth in 2005 was $1.6 billion – with the Northern Virginia region receiving almost $600 million.

To further efforts to become a leading research university, Matthew Kluger was recently hired as vice president for research at Mason. A former vice president of research and dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the Medical College of Georgia, Kluger is responsible for oversight of the research enterprise, including research support, compliance, strategic planning and congressional relations.

In addition to Kluger, two premier researchers, Lance Liotta and Emanuel Petricoin III, recently joined the faculty and co-direct Mason’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine. The two scientists addressed the delegation on current cancer biology and bioengineering research that is receiving worldwide attention.

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