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Five finalists selected for IU Grand Challenges research program

Finalists for "ambitious research program in the university's history" selected from 21 teams of faculty members across the state.

(This article originally appeared in the IU Newsroom:

Five teams have been selected to submit full proposals for funding through the Indiana University Grand Challenges Program, the most ambitious research program in the university's history.

The program, launched in September, will invest up to $300 million over five years to address some of the most urgent challenges facing Indiana and the world.

The finalists were selected from 21 teams of IU faculty members that submitted preliminary proposals in November. Applicants represented 20 schools on five IU campuses across the state.

"The Grand Challenges program offers a unique and exciting opportunity for IU to lead the way in developing responses to our society's most complex and important problems," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "The number of faculty members who participated in the preliminary proposals we received strongly reflects our faculty’s commitment to transformative, innovative and interdisciplinary research that benefits the people of Indiana, the nation and the world."

The selected preliminary proposals and their team leaders are:

  • "Health Equity in Indiana and Beyond," David Burr, Distinguished Professor and associate vice chancellor for research at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and Michael Reece, professor and associate dean at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington.
  • "Preparing for Change: Sustaining Nature’s Assets, Public Health and Human Well-Being," Ellen Ketterson, Distinguished Professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology.
  • "Shaping Our Future: Knowledge, Science and Governance for Sustainable Water Resources," Todd Royer, associate professor in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington.
  • "Transforming Environmental Protection and Health for Indiana and Beyond," Joseph Shaw, associate professor in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington.
  • "Precision Medicine Initiative," Anantha Shekhar, associate vice president for clinical affairs at IU and executive associate dean for research at the IU School of Medicine on the IUPUI campus.

All preliminary proposals were evaluated by a faculty review committee, which recommended a subset for further consideration to McRobbie, who named the five selected for development into full proposals.

IU Vice President for Research Fred Cate, whose office is overseeing the Grand Challenges Program, noted that all five proposals selected for further development focused on medicine or the environmental science and policy, which are recognized strengths of IU.

"While we received proposals from a wide variety of fields, these five proposals impressed the reviewers as not only strong in their own right but as addressing issues of particular importance to the people and economy of Indiana," Cate said. "Moreover, these proposals draw effectively on a wide range of strengths at IU, including not only health care and environmental science, but basic sciences, information technology, and public policy and management."

Over the next four months, Cate said, members of the Office of the Vice President for Research and other campus and university offices will work with the teams to develop the strongest proposals possible.

In addition to substantial financial support, the IU Grand Challenges Program will also provide up to 30 new faculty positions, as well as support for faculty startup needs, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, equipment and facilities for each funded proposal.

Full proposals from the finalists are due April 18, and McRobbie is expected to announce the one or two to be funded in June. More information on each proposal is available at the Grand Challenges Program website