Press Release

Stimulus funds for UC Berkeley research now total $8.6 million

| 05 June 2009

With the announcement this week that the University of California, Berkeley, will receive more than $5 million in new research funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the campus will have reaped $8.6 million in federal funds to help stimulate the economy.

Earlier this week, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) announced that the National Institutes of Health will award three grants to UC Berkeley that total $5.6 million and will fund projects on infectious and immune system diseases and cancer.

"In order to develop new treatments and vaccines for illnesses, we must invest in health care research," Lee said in a June 2 statement. "I am pleased that the Ninth Congressional District of California will receive these funds to continue ... groundbreaking work towards desperately needed treatments and cures."

In recent months, the NIH also awarded stimulus funds to UC Berkeley in the form of two grants, for a total of $1.5 million over two years, for basic research on infectious diseases. The National Science Foundation also awarded $1.5 million in stimulus funds over three years to a campus physicist to study particles and string theory.

"It's very encouraging to see the new Administration investing in top quality science," said Graham R. Fleming, UC Berkeley vice chancellor for research and the Melvin Calvin Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. "We hope these are the first of many more to support the superb research that happens on this campus."

The campus has yet to hear the status of many other UC Berkeley proposals to the federal government for ARRA research funding. A total of 299 were submitted to NIH, NSF, the Department of Energy and other agencies, and more are being prepared for submission.

"In this economic climate, it's exciting to see that the NIH continues to fund research with a global health impact," said Daniel Portnoy, one of the recipients of a new NIH grant and associate director of UC Berkeley's Center for Emerging and Neglected Diseases. "These Recovery Act funds will support American researchers working on problems of importance here in the U.S. and in the developing world. We hope our work will not only advance basic understanding of pathogenesis, but also lead to new vaccines and treatments for infectious disease."

The impending grants from NIH, totaling $5.6 million, are:

  • A grant of $403,192 for two years to Gregory Barton, assistant professor of molecular and cell biology, to create a mouse model to enable researchers to compare TLR9 gene function in mice and humans, which may inform new treatments for infectious and immunologic diseases.
  • A $5,134,706 grant for two years to Daniel Portnoy, professor of molecular and cell biology and of public health, to investigate the interaction between five intracellular pathogens and immune cells called macrophages in hopes of aiding discovery of new therapies to combat these infectious agents.
  • A $101,764 grant for two years to Karen Clyde, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, to elucidate the means by which cancer-causing gamma herpes viruses actively replicate while subverting the immune response, in hopes of identifying weaknesses that could be exploited by treatments and vaccines.

The grants awarded earlier with ARRA funds totaling just over $3 million are:

  • A grant of $1,500,000 for three years from the NSF to Petr Horava, associate professor of physics, to study particles, strings and the universe in motion.
  • A $767,188 grant for two years from the NIH's National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases to Sung-Hou Kim, professor of chemistry and a faculty researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to study the atomic structures of chemotaxis receptors and complexes.
  • A grant of $755,525 for three years from the NIH's National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases to Richard S. Stephens, professor of public health, to study the structure of chlamydia-specific host cell vacuoles.