Mason on pace to surpass $200 million in sponsored research for first time

​Bioengineering professor Siddhartha Sikdar, director of the Center for Adaptive Systems of Brain-Body Interaction, (CASBBI), works with a prosthesis. CASBBI uses cutting-edge ultrasound technology to help people gain greater control of prosthetic devices for their arms, hands, and legs. (Photo courtesy of George Mason University)

George Mason University anticipates reporting more than $200 million in sponsored research expenditures for fiscal year 2020, which would be an all-time high for the university and shows significant progress toward the university’s strategic goal of $225 million by 2024, according to George Mason News.

The final numbers, which will be available in November, include funds provided by federal and state government entities, industry, nonprofit organizations and the university itself. In 2019, the Fairfax-based university reported $186 million in sponsored research expenditures to the National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development survey.

“Mason has strategically pursued the goal of elevating research through supporting our community while they engage in high-impact research, scholarship and creative activities across all of our disciplines,” said Aurali Dade, interim vice president for research, innovation and economic impact. George Mason University anticipates reporting more than $200 million in sponsored research expenditures for fiscal year 2020, which would be an all-time high for the university and shows significant progress toward the university’s strategic goal of $225 million by 2024, according to George Mason News.

The presence of a strong research university is important for economic development in Fairfax County. “The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is gratified to see that the research dollars at George Mason University are anticipated to go up to more than $200 million,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA. “With Fairfax County’s strong technology business base it is important to have Mason’s outstanding research presence evolve and grow.”

Among the prestigious grants Mason has been awarded in fiscal year 2020 are:

  • $15 million in grant funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to establish a Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN). Coordinating and Translation Center. Mason joins 11 research institutions named to the JCOIN, which is part of the National Institutes of Health’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public-health crisis. The center, led by Mason Professor Faye Taxman, will be responsible for the management of logistics, engagement with practitioners and other key stakeholders in the justice and behavioral health fields, and dissemination of products and key research findings.
  • Mason bioengineering professor Siddhartha Sikdar leads the team that has received a nearly $3 million NSF Research Traineeship grant to train more than 100 PhD students, including some with disabilities, to use state-of-the-art data-analytic methods and wearable-computing technologies based on novel transdisciplinary competencies, applications and practice curriculum. The multidisciplinary team of researchers is part of a groundbreaking approach funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that could change the face of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate education in the future.

The tanker Richard G. Matthiesen, which is being used for a National Science Foundation grant that involves Mason professors, navigates Arctic ice. (Photo courtesy of Capt. Ralph H. Pundt of the Maine Maritime Academy)

  • The Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the planet. With the support of a $3 million NSF grant, Mason engineering professors Elise Miller-Hooks and Celso Ferriera, Carter School professor Sara Cobb, and a team of multi-institutional researchers are diving into how melting ice in the Arctic will affect the people, habitats and social fabric of the remote region.

Fatah Kashanchi, a professor of virology at Mason, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Virology, and his team. (Pre-COVID-19 photo courtesy of Evan Cantwell, George Mason University)

  • Mason researchers have also been on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus. More than 100 faculty and student researchers are doing their parts to help thwart the COVID-19 pandemic, inventing new diagnostic tools, as well as exploring promising therapies and vaccine delivery systems. The university received seven NSF Rapid Response Research grants designed to get researchers into the field and lab quicker than the traditional grant process.

“Great research universities tackle the grand-challenge problems of our time,” said Mason President Gregory Washington. “We call it research of consequence for a reason—we face serious consequences as a planet if we cannot solve our most pressing global challenges. We have grown our research portfolio significantly in recent years as more entities seek out productive partnerships with the largest and most diverse public university in Virginia.”

Click here to learn more about Mason research.


County restaurants, fitness centers can operate in heated tents

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors cleared hurdles for restaurants and fitness and exercise centers to operate in cold weather during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, the board voted to allow businesses to continue outdoor dining, fitness and exercise activities with enclosed, heated tents. Businesses have been able to install open-sided tents outside their storefronts since May, which allowed them to operate while maintaining proper social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The new amendments build on the current emergency ordinance. They will allow tents with sides, clarify the circumstances when a permit from the fire official is required and add provisions regarding the use of heaters, both inside and outside of tents.

The county made the decision to relax the permitting process to reduce the stress on businesses working to revitalize the county’s economy while allowing county staff to devote their limited resources to maintaining continuity in government instead of processing an excessive number of applications.

The ordinance will remain in effect no longer than six months after the Board of Supervisors terminates the local declaration of emergency, according to Fairfax County Emergency Information.

Learn more about resources available for businesses operating in Fairfax County on the COVID-19 for Businesses, Organizations and Employees webpage.

Business owners interested in learning more about the newly amended ordinance and other services available can visit the Department of Planning and Development website.


FCEDA to host October 27-28 Cybersecurity Virtual Forum to connect U.S. and Korean companies

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) is hosting a two-session Korea–U.S. Cybersecurity Virtual Forum on October 27 and 28.

Session One, with the focus on Fairfax County, Va., will be held on Tuesday, October 27, at 8:30 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. EDT. Session Two, with the focus on Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, will be held on Wednesday, October 28, at 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. EDT.

There is no cost to attend this event, however, registration is required. Please secure your spot today by clicking on one of the following links:

Focusing on the benefits of entering the U.S. market in dynamic Northern Virginia, the virtual forums will enable Korean cybersecurity companies with contacts and strategies to identify local prospects for potential partnerships. Additionally, U.S.-based cybersecurity companies will have the opportunity to reach out to prospects in Korea.

The forums will consist of a Korean delegation presenting their companies, followed by a Q & A. Participants will be provided with the opportunity to follow-up and network with potential partners after the Zoom conference.


Covid-19 Pro Bono Collaborative Informational Webinar set for Oct. 29

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) is hosting a “Covid-19 Pro Bono Collaborative Informational Webinar” on Oct. 29, 2020, at 10 AM to 11 AM, ET.

The event will be held in partnership with Start Small Think Big (SSTB), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow their businesses, and the Fairfax Law Foundation and Pro Bono Law Center to spotlight valuable free services provided by professional services firms in Northern Virginia.

For more information and to register, please click here.

October 22, 2020