$700k awarded to research projects in Puerto Rico
In order to continue advancing research and economic development on the island, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and its Research Grants Program recognizes researchers who received their Catalyzer Research Grant (CRG), awarding 10 $70K grants. In particular, the CRG provides bridge funding to help researchers position their R&D proposals competitively before submission, or resubmission, to private or federal agencies.
“Our Research Grants Program offers structured, systematic, and open funding mechanisms to support the development of research projects in science and technology in Puerto Rico. We represent a critical source of competitive financial support for research and commercialization activities that build the knowledge economy. We remain focused on promoting innovation and empowering Puerto Rican scientists and entrepreneurs to take Puerto Rico to the highest level of excellence,” said Lucy Crespo, CEO of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust.
Once the funding opportunity was announced, the candidates went through a meticulous selection process. This Research Grants Program process is based on standard and recognized peer review procedures used by federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. By strictly adhering to a comprehensive review process that assesses the scientific merit of grant applications in a process that is fair, independent, expert-driven, and free from improper influence, the Trust is able to identify and fund the most promising research or development work.
According to Andreica Maldonado, director of the Research Grants Program, scientists recognize that funding for research and development (R&D) in Puerto Rico could increase significantly if local researchers had adequate resources to obtain preliminary data. “Given that having preliminary data increases the possibility of ensuring a robust subsidy at the federal level this is exactly what the Catalyzer seeks to provide. Our mission is to be a facilitating entity that allows researchers to secure more funds to take their projects to the next level. So far (not counting these new projects), the Grants Program has awarded 120 grants for a total of approximately $13.8 million dollars and a return on investment of more than $37 million dollars,” Maldonado said.
“I congratulate and thank the researchers and all those who support them in the process of carrying out their various projects, which contribute so much to the development of Puerto Rico and the entire world. It is vital to continue investing in the knowledge economy, with a focus on life sciences, technology, innovation, and exports, with initiatives such as the “Catalyzer Research Grants Program”, to move faster towards what we want and promote – the production of more projects of research that increase the portfolio of intellectual property in Puerto Rico and our global competitiveness; and keep your wealth on the island,” said Manuel Cidre, secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DEDC).
It should be noted that, of the ten funded projects, 8 of them are led by women. "It is the first time that 80% of our beneficiaries are women," Maldonado said. The award-winning researchers were Julie Dutil, PhD., Bianca A. Torres Hernández, PhD., Umberto Ciri, PhD., Darlene Santiago, PhD., Magaly Martínez Ferrer, PhD., Carla Restrepo, PhD., Catalina I. Villamil, PhD., Joselyn Del Pilar Albadalejo, PhD., Andrés Cecchini, PhD., and Imilce A. Rodriguez Fernandez, PhD.
Among the projects financed, there are 8 projects from the University of Puerto Rico (3 Mayagüez Campus, 3 Medical Sciences Campus, 2 Río Piedras Campus), 1 project from Ponce Health Sciences University and a project from the Central University of the Caribbean. The investigations had a wide variety of topics, among which the following stood out: Breast Cancer, Microbiome, Offshore Wind Energy, Opioid Use Disorders, Prostate Cancer, Environmental Sciences, Evolutionary Changes and Genetic and Developmental Processes, Renewable Energy and Aerospace, among others.
For more information about the Trust's Research Grants Program initiatives, you can access the Research Grants Program.