Inside Iowa State

Inside Archives

Submit news

Send news for Inside to, or call (515) 294-7065. See publication dates, deadlines.

About Inside

Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 3, 2006

Officials tell how ISU would spend $17 million on R&D

by Diana Pounds

Iowa State will have $17 million to spend on research and development if the legislature endorses Gov. Tom Vilsack's proposal to give the regents universities $50 million in R&D funds over three years.

Iowa State officials recently told regents and legislators that they would use those funds to:

  • Advance research in neurotoxicology, a field that may yield breakthroughs in treating neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and help meet the challenges of chemical warfare and bio-terrorism.
  • Create an information science institute that will expand research and commercialization in several information science and technology programs.
  • Elevate promising research programs to national prominence -- particularly programs in areas of potential economic impact.

The governor's proposal follows the recommendations of the 2004 Battelle Reports, reports that identified bioscience, information technology and manufacturing modernization as areas of strength in Iowa's economy.

"Iowa State was identified in the study as having clear research strengths in all three areas and substantial experience in translating discovery to commercial application," said vice provost for research John Brighton.

Brighton discussed Iowa State's plan for the research funds in a recent meeting with members of the Iowa Legislature's Economic Development Appropriations Subcommitttee. The plan also was presented to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, on Feb. 1.

If the funds are forthcoming, Brighton said the university would allocate:

  • $4 million to the recently established Iowa Center for Advanced Neurotoxicology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The program is directed by Anumantha Kanthasamy, whose research focus is Parkinson's Disease. Researchers in the center seek to identify toxins that are linked to Parkinson's and other nervous system disorders, understand neurotoxic mechanisms of pesticides and metals, understand neurotoxins of parasitic worms that might be used as parasiticides, and investigate Mad Cow disease.
  • $3 million to create an Information Sciences Institute. The institute would initially include four existing centers that focus on information infrastructure, human-computer interaction, computational intelligence, and computer security. Officials say bringing the centers together will create a strong institute that can seek more external funding for research and commercialization.
  • $10 million for a competitive process to build research infrastructure. Any Iowa State individual or unit could seek funds for people, facilities or equipment to boost existing research programs to higher levels of national excellence. Funds also could help establish new programs that have the promise of achieving national renown. Examples provided at the legislative hearing included the Institute for Combinatorial Discovery, a new Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, and programs in food safety and security, nutrition and wellness, animal genomics and plant sciences.


Iowa State officials tell how the university would spend $17 million on R&D projects over three years. Gov. Tom Vilsack's proposal to give R&D funds to the regents universities needs legislative approval.