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Discovery Discovery January / February 2002
Main Page On the Web Grants Corner Featured Stories


New Biomedical Research Program Begins


by Evelyn Boswell

Montana State University-Bozeman has received a new three-year $6-million grant to increase the biomedical research capacity of Montana, says Adele Pittendrigh, program director and associate Dean of MSU's College of Letters and Science.

Participating institutions are the University of Montana, the McLaughlin Research Institute, Western Montana College of the University of Montana, Montana Tech of the University of Montana, MSU-Billings, MSU-Northern and all seven of Montana's tribal colleges: Blackfeet Community College, Chief Dull Knife College, Fort Belknap Community College, Fort Peck Community College, Little Big Horn College, Salish Kootenai College and Stone Child College.

The Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) grant was one of 24 given in the nation. It came from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), which is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). MSU-Bozeman is the lead institution in Montana and is responsible for subcontracts and activities at all the participating institutions.

"This is the biggest and most complex grant I have been involved with," Pittendrigh commented. "It really has potential to make a huge impact on the state. I'm very, very excited about that."

The BRIN grant allows the Montana schools to set up a statewide network to eventually improve the success rate for Montana researchers applying for biomedical research grants. That's a new direction for the NIH, so the Montana Network steering committee says it wants to prove that the decision was a good one.

BRIN activities include summer conferences, short courses and seminars, faculty fellowships and awards for graduate student travel. Both MSU and UM will offer Summer Undergraduate Research Programs to which students from any Montana BRIN school can apply. Both universities will offer mentoring programs for students. A statewide mini-grant program will be offered for undergraduate research.

"I think it's very critical that every state have a strong biomedical infrastructure," Pittendrigh commented.

The 24 BRIN grants went to institutions in states that received less than $70 million in NIH funds from 1995 to 1999 or had an NIH grant award success rate of less than 20 percent during that time.

Evelyn Boswell is the technical writer for the Office of Research, Creativity and Technology Transfer.

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