Grand Challenges Research Investments
The University’s Great and Good 2030 Plan identifies five priority focus areas for research: Democracy, Environmental Resilience and Sustainability, Precision Medicine, the Brain and Neuroscience, and Digital Technology and Society. The Grand Challenges Research Investments are intended to make a substantial difference through large strategic investments—to move the needle and not just fund business as usual. We plan to focus on opportunities that will have high impact, such as significant research infrastructure or new faculty (cluster hires or key leaders). We do not plan to support routine research expenses or replace externally sponsored research funding. This transformative new investment is designed to expand and complement our current research portfolio.
Similar to the University’s new differentiating $100 million investment in Democracy, UVA plans to make substantial commitments of up to $50 million each in two other key research areas in the 2021-22 academic year: Environmental Resiliency and Sustainability and the Brain and Neuroscience. We plan to follow with funding in Digital Technology and Society and Precision Medicine in the 2022-23 academic year.
While we identified the thematic research areas, we need your help to develop the specific proposals that will frame and direct our investments. To this end, the President, the Provost and the VPR Offices will co-sponsor a one-day conference in each area early in the fall semester. These events, open to the full UVA community, will feature interdisciplinary faculty panels focused on broad topics such as: the future of Environmental Resiliency and Sustainability, and the Brain and Neuroscience, and opportunities for UVA to lead. There will be time set aside for discussion after each panel, and we hope that many of you—and your students—will attend. The ideas generated by the conferences will help us develop the specific areas and projects for investment.
One of the key goals of our strategic plan is to enable discoveries that enrich and improve lives. We have made progress on this goal—which you can see on our new interactive timeline—but there is still much to be done. Our investments in Environmental Resiliency and Sustainability and the Brain and Neuroscience are an important next step. We look forward to working with you on this exciting goal in the coming years.
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