Research Highlights
1995-96

The University of Pittsburgh is one of the nation's leading recipients of support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). With $140.1 million in support in fiscal year 1995, Pitt ranked tenth in the nation, fifth among public universities. NIH grants received by Pitt faculty support research in areas like cancer treatment, Alzheimer's disease, molecular biology, arthritis, organ transplantation, and gene therapies.

Nationally and internationally, University researchers have been recognized for their discoveries and innovations developed through research initiatives. Recently, for example, researchers in the health sciences were credited with being the first to evaluate a gene therapy approach on a patient with rheumatoid arthritis; the Director of the University's Allegheny Observatory discovered what appears to be two planets orbiting a nearby star; and a Geology and Planetary Science researcher was credited with finding the meteorite in Antarctica that may contain fossils of tiny Martian organisms. Other research highlights, presented in the University Times, The Pitt News, and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center publications include:

advances in communication services The National Science Foundation and MCI Telecommunication Corporation have awarded $347,138 to two researchers in the Department of Information Science and Telecommunications, of the School of Information Sciences. The NSF grant will be used on a project to make large, futuristic communication networks more fault-tolerant, which is expected to make the telephone, fax, cable TV, and Internet more reliable. The MCI-funded project will characterize high-speed network traffic. The results are expected to significantly influence future networking research on audio, video, and data traffic from many diverse multimedia applications.

gene therapy to fight cancer The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has been awarded a $4.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop gene therapies with cytokines, hormonal agents that enhance the body's ability to fight cancer. Pitt researchers believe that these treatments may thwart a cancer's ability to elude normal detection and destruction by the body's immune system.

bio-artificial liver assist device The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has signed a sponsored research agreement with Excorp Medical, Inc. to evaluate a novel design for a bio-artificial liver assist device. More than $1 million will be provided, over three years, to conduct studies, including tests of the device in humans. The device is intended to temporarily support patients with acute liver failure.

improving literacy among high school students The Learning Research and Development Center will receive $1 million over the next three years from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support research on increasing literacy and job skills among high school students through workplace simulation.

liquids and their densities Researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' Department of Physics and Astronomy have received $420,000 in funding from NASA to examine how liquids mix with each other as their densities become more similar. The study is important for space research because, in space, all liquids have the same density. The study also will help scientists know how liquids will react when mixed so that machinery can be built accordingly.

liver cell growth in the laboratory Through a unique culture system, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have accomplished, for the first time, sustained, proliferative growth of normal hepatocytes (liver cells) in the laboratory. This accomplishment will provide the necessary groundwork for the development of artificial liver devices, possible treatments for acute liver failure, and gene therapeutic strategies that have remained hypothetical until now.

research materials and technology transfer The Materials Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh has received $7.5 million over the past five years from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to perform multidisciplinary research on high performance materials, optoelectronic materials and catalytic materials with emphasis on technology transfer. This research involves over twenty faculty members from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering in collaboration with industry. It includes a variety of projects including fabrication of diamond films, novel laser eye protection devices, and NOx decomposition for automotive catalytic converters.

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Office of Institutional Research
University of Pittsburgh Fact Book, September 1996