BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A University at Buffalo program that provides faculty with "seed" money to pursue promising research ideas has yielded $14 in external funding for every $1 that the university invested in 1994 during the program's first year.
The financial return is only part of the story: Benefits will accrue long into the future, ultimately improving lives, thanks to the program's investments in research on new technologies, assistive devices and fundamental mechanisms behind common medical conditions, as well as other important advances.
"This is a winner for UB from an economic point of view, and a spectacular deal for faculty," said Alan Lockwood, Ph.D., UB professor of neurology.
Lockwood's 1993 seed project proposal funded for $19,100 resulted in a $46,000 grant from the American Tinnitus Association, which in turn resulted in a $1.3 million National Institutes of Health grant earlier this year.
"The program has spurred the kind of research activity that ought to be taking place in a research university," he said. "It's good for the people of New York State and the United States because they'll be deriving benefits from the research we're doing."
By distributing small, one-time grants on a competitive basis to faculty teams, the Multidisciplinary Pilot Project Program (MPPP) encourages researchers to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries to demonstrate preliminary results that they then can present in proposals to external funders.
Among the program's success stories are:
o A $1.3 million grant to Lockwood and Richard Salvi, Ph.D., professor of communicative disorders and sciences, from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a major investigation of tinnitus and hearing loss using PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanning. Lockwood and Salvi have located the precise area in the brain responsible for tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, a condition that affects millions of Americans. Original UB investment: $19,100