Top Stories

UC San Diego Passes $100 Million Mark for Federal Stimulus Funds

Thanks to the efforts of faculty, researchers, students and staff, UC San Diego has now received more than $107 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, with numerous proposals for additional support still being evaluated.

Channeled through existing federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy, the ARRA funds support research in medicine, biology, chemistry, oceanography, engineering and other fields – research that UC San Diego is noted for translating into innovations, medical breakthroughs, jobs and new businesses in San Diego and California.

“This vital federal support for UC San Diego will help us deliver the benefits of our research from the campus to the community,” said Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “Our goal is to produce a return on investment that’s even more impressive.”

The university reached the $10-million mark for ARRA funding last June and the $40-million mark in August, said Vice Chancellor for Research Arthur B. Ellis. “The $100-million milestone demonstrates not only the scientific and scholarly merits of our proposals, but also the incredible level of effort by our faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate and undergraduate students,” he said. “We’ve submitted more than 1,000 proposals to date in a tough, competitive, funding environment.”

Research Highlights

New NIH Training Grant Administration System Speeds Applications

The Research Affairs IT team is pleased to announce the creation of a web-based reporting system that facilitates the process of applying for and receiving NIH training grants.

The new Training Grant Administration System (TGAS) enables users to create the data tables required by NIH when PIs apply for five-year training grant renewals.  TGAS users can enter the data required by NIH and/or import available data on students, staff, faculty, graduate programs, academic departments, and contract & grant activity from existing databases or from other TGAS reports. The data tables can then be exported into Excel for submission to NIH.

This system was developed by several units on campus, including the Office of Research Affairs, the School of Medicine Dean’s Office, the Office of Graduate Studies, and the Office of Contract and Grant Administration.

To get started, or for more information, visit the TGAS website or contact the Office of Research Affairs at 858-534-9758 or

Stimulus Grant of Nearly $9 Million Funds Big Study of Young Brains

Thanks to a grant of $8,950,590 provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), researchers at UC San Diego looking for the biological basis of differences in human behavior will use sophisticated gene-mapping tools and imaging technology to collect a wealth of data about brain development in children.  

The grant was awarded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The study, called PING (for pediatric imaging, neurocognition and genetics), represents one of NIDA’s signature projects.  The UC San Diego-based project involves 10 sites throughout the country/

The project will be coordinated within the university’s Center for Human Development (CHD), and the advanced neuroimaging work of the project will be based in the MultiModal Imaging Laboratory. Faculty from at least seven different UC San Diego departments will participate in the project, a testament to the growth and importance of interdisciplinary research, according to Vice Chancellor for Research Arthur B. Ellis.

“This very significant award – one of the largest single ARRA awards that UC San Diego has received to date – recognizes the vital, life-saving research being conducted at the CHD, an interdisciplinary Organized Research Unit -- and makes possible swift advances in the pediatric brain-imaging and genomics projects so important to families in California and across America,” Ellis said.

UC San Diego professors Terry Jernigan and Anders Dale are the project’s leaders. Read the original news release about CHD research. arrow

Photo of a Gordon Lightening Flash

NSF Awards $20 Million to SDSC to Develop ‘Gordon’

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC)  has been awarded a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to build and operate a powerful supercomputer dedicated to solving critical science and societal problems by managing the overwhelming avalanche of data generated by the digital devices of our era.

Among other features, this unique and innovative supercomputer will employ a vast amount of flash memory to help speed solutions that are now constrained by slower spinning disk technology. Also, new “supernodes” will exploit virtual shared-memory software to create large shared-memory systems that reduce solution times and yield results for applications that now tax even the most advanced supercomputers.

Called “Gordon,” SDSC’s latest supercomputer will become a key part of a network of next-generation high-performance computers being made available to the research community through an open-access national grid. Gordon is the follow-on to SDSC’s previously announced Dash system, the first supercomputer to use flash devices. Notably, Dash earned first place in the SC09 Data Challenge.
Read more about the supercomputer here:  arrow

News from the ORUs

Life in Time: UCSD’s New Center for Chronobiology Studies Rhythms of Existence

UC San Diego is among the nation’s leaders in encouraging and supporting interdisciplinary research. The university’s Organized Research Units (ORUs) demonstrate both the necessity for, and the wisdom of, bringing together experts from an array of fields to study complex processes, create new forms of expression, and solve daunting problems.

One of the newest ORUs, the Center for Chronobiology (CCB), serves as an excellent example of that successful blending of knowledge and perspectives across disciplines, and it has an ambitious goal: to establish UCSD as the premier international center of chronobiology research.

Vice Chancellor for Research Art Ellis, whose office oversees a portfolio of nearly 20 ORUs at UC San Diego, says that the CCB typifies the new research units that UC San Diego is advancing. “We’re doing work at the frontiers of scholarship,” he said, “and collaboration across disciplines strengthens that spirit of pioneering and innovation.”

The list of scientific and academic specialties represented in the CCB shows just how intertwined most modern research has become: psychology, biology, physics, psychiatry, pharmacy, bioengineering, philosophy and reproductive medicine – with sub-specialties within each of those fields.

“Our intention is to bring together diverse researchers working on biological timing from different perspectives,” said the faculty advocates in their proposal to establish the center, “so as to create an intellectual framework for such studies, to foster new and deeper collaborations, and to share methodologies. The very nature of studies on biological clocks, from single cells to human behavior, indicates that our multidisciplinary approach is a natural fit.”

One of those advocates and now co-director of the CCB, Stuart Brody, professor of biology, explains some of the basic concepts behind the complicated science. “Because life evolved on a rotating earth, itself revolving around the sun, biological systems – from the simplest cells onwards – have had to contend with conditions that markedly changed both daily and seasonally. Whereas most biological research has stressed constancy and homeostasis, chronobiology – the study of biological rhythmicity –has at its core a view of biology as inherently cyclical and interactive.”

Co-director Susan Golden, professor of biology, elaborates:  “Rhythmicity is ubiquitous and central to the organization of life. Chronobiology is of particular applied significance since modern society demands that people perform outside of their evolved temporal niche. Artificial lighting, shift-work, and trans-meridian jet travel all represent chronobiological novelties that affect the health and safety of millions.”

Brody, Golden, and their colleagues will focus on four research “clusters:”

They fully expect, however, that the center “will evolve in novel directions,” and that CCB researchers will make connections outside of these formal clusters.

Among those who have joined the CCB is Steve Kay, dean of the Division of Biological Sciences, noted for his work on circadian rhythms in both plants and animals. He shares the ambitious goals of Brody and Golden. “We want UCSD to become synonymous with chronobiology,” he said, “and our graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to excel in cross-disciplinary approaches that represent the future of scientific research. And, because this work has broad societal interest, we will produce and distribute a wealth of materials for education and scientific advocacy.”

The members of the new ORU clearly understand that informing their peers and educating the public are vital to the long-term success of the center. Accordingly, they will work through their departments to implement a new graduate course in chronobiology; start a new journal club (to complement the existing Mammalian Chronobiology Journal Club); organize a yearly lecture series; and maintain an active website for both internal and external audiences.  The CCB recently co-sponsored its first symposium, a discussion of circadian rhythms held at the Salk Institute.

Chronobiology, says Brody, has been associated with La Jolla even before there was a UCSD. He cites two Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists, B. Sweeney and W. Hastings, who studied the marine organisms responsible for luminescent waves in the 1950s, and mentions both Bob Moore, a member of the School of Medicine, and Warren Butler, a biologist, both of whom explored, in different ways, the rhythms of life. Brody himself organized and hosted a National Science Foundation conference in 1976 that drew scientists from around the globe.

With a solid foundation in the university’s past, a strong presence in the interdisciplinary present, and the promise of collaborative achievements in the future, the chronobiologists of the CCB are clearly rising in the tidal rhythms of science.

View a list of all UC San Diego organized research units