Castleton University is one of nine colleges and universities across Vermont that will benefit from a $19.4 million grant to develop biomedical research expertise among faculty and encourage students to pursue careers in the biomedical sciences.
This five-year award was granted to The University of Vermont from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help fund the Vermont Biomedical Research Network (VBRN), formerly known as the Vermont Genetics Network. The program provides seed funding to faculty at participating colleges and universities, which will allow them to develop their own research programs, and hire paid student research assistants to work in the labs.
Beyond promoting workforce development, VBRN hopes to develop groups of scientists from around the state working on a common research theme that can help improve the health of Vermonters.
Several Castleton faculty members and student interns have been awarded seed grants from the Vermont Biomedical Research Network, with more than $1 million in research grant money awarded over the past decade. Associate Professor and Biology Program Coordinator Preston Garcia received an additional $300,000 research grant through the National Science Foundation in 2018, which allowed him to continue his research on the ways in which bacteria can sense their environment and change their behavior according to their surroundings.
Assistant Professor Andrea Corcoran was recently awarded start-up funds from Vermont Biomedical Research Network. VBRN has also awarded Castleton with $20,000 in research kick-start funds that Associate Professor, Environmental Science Program Coordinator, and Natural Sciences Chair Andy Vermilyea is holding an internal competition for. To date, Associate Professor Jacob Park from the College of Business and Assistant Professor Lacy Skinner in the Psychological Science Department have secured awards. These funds can be used for supplies, travel, and conference registrations.
“VBRN has been, and continues to be, a driving force behind the scholarly work of our faculty,” Vermilyea said.“These grants have allowed Castleton students to participate in novel scientific research, present at national conferences, travel the world, and move on to graduate programs in their field. These collaborative student-faculty interactions are now a hallmark of the personalized educational experience at Castleton.”
Other VBRN schools include Champlain College, Community College of Vermont, Landmark College, Middlebury College, Northern Vermont University, Norwich University, and St. Michael’s College.