The University will invest more than $75 million in neuroscience research as part of its Grand Challenges Research Investmentswhich aims to provide strategic investments – such as the hiring of new faculty – that will have a greater impact on the key research areas identified in the 2030 diet.
The overarching goal of the plan is to make the University the top-ranked public university by 2030 through four overarching goals – strengthening existing systems, creating a vibrant student community, supporting research discoveries that improve life and make the University synonymous with service.
Provost Ian Baucom, Melur Ramasubramanian, vice president for research and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Megan Barnett, vice provost for academic initiatives, will lead the Grand Challenges.
“We are making these investments with the clear intention of seeing results that we can scale up and share widely for the public good,” Baucom said in an interview with UVA Today. “It is a crucial expression of our mission as a public research university and the emphasis of the 2030 Plan on being big and good.”
Early neuroscience studies for the Grand Challenges will include investigating why caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are more likely to develop dementia than those who are not caregivers, a deeper understanding of the circuitry and general brain development, cataloging neurodiversity among the many types of autism to improve educational and developmental tools, and focused ultrasound testing to deliver immunological therapies across the protective blood-brain barrier.
The University will also hire more than 20 faculty members to help with neuroscience research and launch the Next Generation Scholars program, which will recruit and train 15 postdoctoral researchers with a focus on diversifying the field.
The University Grand Challenges Fund will provide $50 million of the investment while the U.Va. Health Schools and Partner Schools – School of Medicine, School of Engineering, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing, School of Data Science, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Education and Human Development – will contribute $25 million to the initiative.
“Another benefit of these investments is that they will position us to develop a comprehensive, world-class neuroscience institute, modeled after a comprehensive cancer center,” Baucom said.