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UC Davis named a top-10 biomedical research center

By Dave Jones on April 29, 2011 in University

UC Davis this week was named by The Hartwell Foundation as one of the nation’s top-10 centers for biomedical research, making the university eligible for full participation in the foundation’s next cycle of individual awards: $100,000 in direct costs per year, for three years, for research of potential benefit to children.

Three UC Davis researchers have secured Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Awards over the last three years, with the most recent award coming earlier this month. That award, in the 2010 cycle, went to Cristina E. Davis, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, for a "point-of-care breath sensor to improve childhood asthma control."

The other UC Davis recipients: Sanjay S. Joshi, associate professor, mechanical and aerospace engineering, for a "new human-computer interface for severely paralyzed children" (2009), and J. Kent Leach, associate professor, biomedical engineering, for "engineered composite materials for treating premature closure of the soft spot in infants" (2008).

UC Davis had only partial eligibility for the Hartwell investigator awards in each of the three years that it nominated Davis, Joshi and Leach. Partial eligibility allows a university to nominate only two researchers. But now that The Hartwell Foundation has named UC Davis a top-10 “research center of excellence,” with full eligibility, UC Davis can nominate four people for the 2011 awards to be given a year from now.

“We are proud and excited that The Hartwell Foundation has selected UC Davis for this top honor,” Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said. “We have been a partner with the foundation for three years running now, and our selection to the top-10 list is evidence of the excellent achievements of our researchers. We look forward to many more successes with the foundation.”

The Memphis-based foundation “seeks to inspire innovation and achievement by funding early-stage, transformative biomedical research with the potential to benefit children of the United States," according to the foundation's website. Further, the foundation targets "cutting-edge applied research that has not yet qualified for funding from traditional outside sources."

Shared values

The foundation's "unique and selective funding process" starts with the annual announcement of the Top 10 Centers of Biomedical Research. The 2011 list came out on April 27, one day before Katehi met in her office with the foundation's president, Frederick A. Dombrose. He is here on a previously scheduled two-day visit.

“Like UC Davis, The Hartwell Foundation seeks to inspire innovation and achievement,” Dombrose said. “The leadership of UC Davis shares the same values as The Hartwell Foundation.”

UC San Diego also made the 2011 list, as did Cornell University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Each is eligible to nominate four researchers (faculty or research staff). Also, each top-10 institution receives a Hartwell Fellowship to fund a postdoctoral candidate of the institution's choice — a postdoc who exemplifies the values of The Hartwell Foundation. The fellowship provides support for two years at $50,000 direct cost per year.

“We provide an opportunity for those we support to make a difference and to realize their hopes and dreams,” Dombrose said.

On the Web

The Hartwell Foundation


Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,