On May 5, 2014, the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio are announcing the formation of the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute (SALSI) Academy. The formation of this academy will herald in a new era of collaboration and multi-disciplinary research between these two institutions.
Established in 2003, researchers involved in SALSI have driven the expansion of new scientific knowledge throughout Texas and have enhanced the research, teaching and service missions of UTSA and UT Health Science Center. This collaboration has enabled joint doctoral programs and research projects and has driven initiatives that stimulated the growth of the biomedical and biotechnology industries in San Antonio. SALSI has also fostered the commercialization of the products of research with institutional partners such as the Southwest Research Institute and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute.
UTSA and UT Health Science Center realized a need to further develop collaborative research, and created the SALSI Academy to serve as the focal point for a wide range of educational, scientific, and policy issues in the life sciences. Under the auspices of SALSI and with guidance from the leadership of the UT Health Science Center and UTSA, the academy’s mission is to collaborate on joint studies that significantly contribute to solutions for healthcare challenges in Texas and the nation. The SALSI Academy will achieve its mission through faculty development programs, shared resources (core laboratories, etc.), and collaborative funding mechanisms.
“A cornerstone concept of the SALSI Academy is to build on the successes of the past to promote stellar, team science which capitalizes on the talented human investigators we have within each institution,” said Mark Nijland, assistant vice president for research at UT Health Science Center.
The present global issues and challenges that research institutions are working to address are complex and occur at the intersection of disciplines. In order to advance research, creativity, and innovation, there must be an integration and convergence of disciplines. Several joint initiatives will be launched within SALSI to enhance interdisciplinary research collaborations, significantly raise the international research profile and competitiveness of UTSA and UT Health Science Center, and foster excellence and innovation for both institutions.
Beginning May 5th, 2014, the SALSI Academy will accept proposals for its first joint initiative—the SALSI Innovation Challenge. The SALSI Innovation Challenge is designed to fund high risk, high reward studies that have the potential for ground-breaking research in targeted disease areas, such as diabetes and allergies, which impact the south Texas region. The proposed research should lead to technologies and innovations targeting public health issues and diseases of global impact.
“The SALSI Academy is an additional conduit to facilitate and promote cross collaborative research and training for faculty and students from both institutions,” said Bernard Arulanandam, assistant vice president for research at UTSA. “Through the SALSI Innovation Challenge, we can jumpstart this collaborative research with high-reward, high-gain research that will change our approach to health related issues.”
Funding from the SALSI Innovation Challenge will support early and conceptual stages of project development, and exploratory, novel studies that break new ground or extend previous discoveries toward new directions or applications. The total maximum amount to be requested by researchers is $200,000 per award ($100,000 per institution), and it is anticipated that four projects will be funded.