Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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As federal dollars get harder to come by, faculty turn to corporate research funding

By David Schwartz
Published: November 14th, 2017

As federal research dollars grow increasingly competitive, officials at George Washington University are increasingly turning to corporate sponsors to take up the slack.

Leo Chalupa, GW’s vice president for research, said expanding agreements between professors and corporations to fund research is one of the office’s central goals this academic year. But it’s not all about the money — Chalupa said these agreements show the University’s rising prominence as a major research player, and experts said they often bankroll extensive research projects that require more money and resources than a single university can provide.

“As you get more and more prominence in research … you start getting the interest of corporations,” Chalupa said. “I think corporations are going to be increasing as our visibility as a university increases.”

So far this year, the schools has landed $7.5 million in corporate research – an increase over previous years, Chalupa he said.

Just this past September, an engineering professor secured a $5.3 million deal with U.S. Patent Innovations, a Maryland-based patent company, to explore a plasma-based cancer treatment, which the school’s says is its largest-ever corporate research contract.

Still, there is the potential for problems, and Chalupa said school officials often have to “protect” researchers from entering a contract that exploits the faculty member to turn a profit for the company. Each deal, he stressed, is reviewed by school lawyers to ensure both parties are treated fairly and relationships are structured for success.

“Sometimes faculty members just say, ‘I want to get this money, I don’t care about anything else,’” Chalupa said. “But if it’s going to be a disadvantage to that faculty member two or three years down the line, we want to make sure that faculty member knows exactly what he or she is getting into.”

Greg Guilcher, a hematologist at the University of Calgary who’s researching sickle cell disease treatments, has no problem justifying the influx of corporate funding, noting that without it many project simply wouldn’t get done. “We want high-quality, ethical, rigorous research, but without money, research to improve health outcomes can’t happen,” Guilcher said.

Source: The GW Hatchet

Posted under: Industry-Sponsored Research Week

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