The University of Virginia announced last week that it intends to make significant investments in its research infrastructure and is developing a framework to prioritize those investments to support the University of Virginia’s strategic plan.
“One of the key goals in the 2030 Strategic Plan is to enable discoveries that enrich and improve lives,” UVA President Jim Ryan said. “This investment will ensure we fulfill that goal by having the right foundations in place to conduct and disseminate research across fields and disciplines. I’m excited to see what this investment will yield in terms of new discoveries that make a difference in the world.”
The Strategic Research Infrastructure Initiative is focusing on three areas: the people and infrastructure necessary to attract more external funding for research; the infrastructure needed to conduct and support research; and the infrastructure to ensure that research has impact.
“One of my highest priorities as provost is to strengthen research,” Ian Baucom, executive vice president and provost, said. “At the same time that we are investing in specific research topics through Grand Challenges, we also need to advance the excellence and future of all research at UVA.”
A steering committee chaired by Catherine Bradshaw, senior associate dean for research and faculty development in the School of Education and Human Development, will oversee the initiative. Over the next nine months, the committee and its working groups will assess UVA’s current research infrastructure and compare its operations and resources against those of other institutions. It will also identify and prioritize the opportunities and challenges facing UVA.
“I am honored to lead this important committee,” Bradshaw said. “We will be working collaboratively to evaluate, identify and prioritize a number of strategic investments that will help move UVA’s research to the next level. Through this process, we aim to strengthen our research enterprise at UVA to benefit students, faculty and staff over the next decade and beyond.”
The committee will start with several questions: Where should UVA invest to move the needle for research? How will these investments assist UVA in achieving its goals? What barriers do we need to remove?
The initiative defines “infrastructure” broadly. Some of the types of research infrastructure that will be considered include:
- Building channels for research funding.
- Postdoctoral and graduate programs.
- Additional space for research of all kinds.
- Investing in shared equipment and research cores.
- Advanced computing and data analytics.
Other research infrastructure investments to increase impact could include support for clinical trials, strengthening partnerships with lawmakers and local communities, and increasing support for entrepreneurship and licensing.
“Substantial investments in our research infrastructure, along with the Grand Challenges, are needed to meet our goals,” Melur “Ram” Ramasubramanian, vice president for research, said. “The improvements will help support UVA as it moves from prominence to preeminence. I am most excited to be the co-executive sponsor for this most important initiative with Provost Baucom.”
The steering committee will develop a recommended list of infrastructure improvements for both the short and long terms, focusing on the infrastructure, policies and organizational changes needed to support, grow and improve research at UVA. The President’s Executive Roundtable will make final decisions, and investments will begin in summer 2023.