University hopes to implement two research initiatives this year

The 10 research initiatives the University launched last year are currently at different stages of completion, but the University hopes to implement at least two this academic year, a University official said last week.

Vice President for Research Leo Chalupa said key administrators and deans are currently in the process of deciding which two centers to implement during the academic year. He stressed that while the decision will take time, the process is moving forward.

“I am optimistic that during this academic year we will begin implementing two of these,” Chalupa said. “It’s important to show we have these initiatives and it’s not just stuff on paper.”

Drawing on his previous experiences working to create and implement university research centers, Chalupa said he is careful not to rush the process only to realize mistakes were made.

“Sometimes people think it’s going to be done tomorrow. But it’s not,” Chalupa said. “You want to move forward and press forward, but you don’t want to do it in such a way that you make mistakes.”

Chalupa, who became GW’s first vice president for research in April 2009, announced last fall the University’s plans to create research centers in autism, computational biology, science policy, energy, sustainability and neglected diseases. Later that year, areas of the global status of women, the arts, cancer, and global security were named as additional areas of research.

Chalupa said because of the high number of projects, the completion timeline will be stretched out over three to five years.

“This is a very ambitious thing, to do ten,” Chalupa said. “Normally at a University of this size, if you could do two or three initiatives, that would be a fair number.”

Dr. Valerie Hu, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, said the autism initiative is on track to become the only comprehensive center of its kind in the D.C. area.

“As a parent, I know you can often be left floundering after a child’s diagnosis,” Hu said. “We hope to bring together a combination of practical interventions and research to better provide for patients with autism and related developmental disabilities.”

Chalupa said he hopes the research initiative process will benefit all involved in the GW community, including undergraduates. He said he will continue to seek suggestions in every step of the process in order to approach the initiatives in the best way possible for GW.

“These things don’t get done because the vice president of research wants them done,” he said. “They get done because it’s the right thing to do and the faculty want it, the students want and the other administrators want it. It has to be a consensus.”

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