October 22, 2009
(updated: December 14, 2009;
previous totals were 76 grants and $36 million)

WORCESTER, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Medical School has received a total of $38.6 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). To date, 80 clinical, translational and basic science projects ranging in scope from identification of genes responsible for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) to improving mental health treatment retention for young adults, have received funding.

“Because these grants are awarded through a peer review process, the large amount of awards received by UMass Medical School shows the high-quality of research being pursued,” said Michael F. Collins, MD, Chancellor of UMass Medical School. “It also recognizes the significant role that scientific research has in stimulating our local and state economy.”

The NIH’s ARRA-backed programs are designed to help stimulate the US economy through the support and advancement of scientific research. In funding projects with ARRA resources, the NIH has sought to follow the spirit of the Recovery Act legislation by supporting efforts that will stimulate the economy, create or retain jobs, and have the potential for making scientific progress in two years. Studies conducted by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute on UMass Medical School’s local economic impact, found that every dollar invested in medical research yielded at least twice that amount in growth in payrolls, supply purchases and support staff.

More than 12,000 ARRA grants have been awarded nationally, with Massachusetts capturing a total of 1,225 grants. To receive funds, scientists needed to demonstrate that their research would focus on specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods. Selected projects also needed to demonstrate that they would benefit from an influx of funds to quickly advance the area in significant ways and the potential for a high impact in biomedical or behavioral science and/or public health.

Below is a sampling of UMMS projects which received ARRA funding from the NIH:

  • Robert Brown, MD, DPhil, chair and professor neurology, received $3.6 million to develop a platform for the full genome sequencing that will identify rare genetic variants that underlie both sporadic and familial forms of ALS.
  • Robert Finberg, MD, Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine and chair and professor of medicine and professor of molecular genetics & microbiology, received $3.6 million to study innate immune responses associated with the herpes simplex virus.
  • Celia Schiffer, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, received $600,000 to develop anti-viral drugs for HIV treatment that are less susceptible to drug-resistance strains of the disease.
  • Victor Ambros, PhD, Silverman Chair in Natural Sciences and professor of molecular medicine, was awarded $771,000 to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying the developmental regulation of microRNA expression in C. elegans.
  • Stephenie Lemon, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, received $1.3 million to determine the effectiveness of a worksite intervention program, called Step Ahead, aimed at reducing weight gain compared to a self-directed, print-materials only control group.
  • Edward Boyer, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, received $1 million to use innovative mobile technology and biosensors to detect stressors and deliver effective and timely cognitive behavioral interventions for patients suffering posttraumatic stress or substance abuse.
  • Maryann Davis, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry, received $800,000 to develop prevention interventions and service delivery models for young adults experiencing severe mental illnesses, leading to increased treatment retention.

For a full list of projects please visit

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $200 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The mission of the University of Massachusetts Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the Commonwealth and the world through pioneering education, research, public service and health care delivery with its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care.

For more information, visit