Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, March 29, 2010

U-M, Chinese university jointly fund renewable energy and biomedical research projects

U-M and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China today launched two programs to jointly fund renewable energy and biomedical research projects involving investigators from both universities.

The goal of the renewable-energy program is to develop new technologies that reduce global carbon emissions and their impact on climate change. The biomedical collaboration will spur technological advances that improve human health.

“The research strengths of our two universities are quite complementary,” says Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest.

“By collaborating on renewable energy and biomedical research projects, we have a unique opportunity to move our innovations much more quickly toward the marketplace, where they can begin to benefit people across the globe,” Forrest says.

“I cannot think of two other areas of research that can have a greater impact on the environment and the quality of life of people worldwide,” he says.

Each university is committing $3 million over five years — the first phase of the program. The first call for research proposals is being issued today in Ann Arbor and Shanghai. The first grants — each with a maximum annual funding of $200,000 — are expected to be awarded in late June. Each team must include researchers from U-M and SJTU.

Areas likely to be funded by the Collaborative Research Program in Renewable Energy Science and Technology include clean-coal technology, building efficiency and clean vehicles.

The goal of the initial five-year seed phase of the project is to identify renewable energy projects that have commercialization potential and that are likely to attract follow-on research funding from the U.S. and Chinese governments, as well as from industry. The collaboration will take advantage of funding opportunities expected to be offered by both the U.S. Department of Energy and the Chinese government.

Last July, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Chinese science and energy officials announced plans to develop a U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center. The center will facilitate joint research and development on clean energy by teams of scientists and engineers from the U.S. and China. The U.S. and China together pledged $15 million to support initial activities.

“We will be ready to make strong proposals into those programs,” Forrest says.

The Collaborative Research Program in Biomedical Technologies will focus on topics including:
• Diagnostic and therapeutic imaging.
• Minimally and non-invasive therapy (e.g., therapeutic ultrasound).
• Bio-nanotechnology (e.g., for drug delivery and cellular engineering). tissue engineering and biomaterials.
• Biomedical devices (e.g., implantable devices, in vitro diagnostics, surgical instruments, sensors).
• Neural engineering and rehabilitation.
• Medical informatics.

In addition to the renewable energy and biomedical technologies research programs, the two universities will offer grants of up to $80,000 to organize and host collaborative symposia focusing on major topics in the areas of renewable energy and biomedical engineering.

The new research partnerships between U-M and SJTU build on years of collaboration between the two schools. In 2001, U-M became the first non-Chinese academic institution approved to offer graduate engineering degrees to students in China, at SJTU. In 2005, U-M and SJTU strengthened the partnership by forming a Joint Institute to manage and direct degree-granting programs offered by both universities to students from both nations.