Research Highlights


The University of Pittsburgh, according to recent national data, had the largest increase in percentage share of research dollars awarded to all medical schools in the United States by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over the past ten years. In 1985, 1.3 cents of every NIH research dollar was awarded to the University of Pittsburgh. By 1995, the amount awarded to Pitt had risen to just over 2.3 cents of every NIH dollar awarded, making Pitt one of the best performers of any institution in America. With regard to support from the National Cancer Institute in particular, the University received the largest percentage increase in NCI support, 158%, between 1990 and 1995, from $14.3 million to $36.9 million, respectively. During these same years, the University has consistently been the leading recipient of funding from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Nationally and internationally, University researchers have been recognized for their discoveries and innovations developed through research initiatives. Recently, for example, Pitt researchers helped to develop a simple and accurate method to assess the severity of community-acquired pneumonia. Other research highlights, presented in the University of Pittsburgh Research Review, University Times, The Pitt News, and UPMC Health System publications include:

global climate change Researchers in the Department of Geology and Planetary Science in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences have received two grants from the National Science Foundation. The first grant of $126,000 will be used to study the relationship of global climate change to chemical weathering and soil development. The additional $275,000 grant will be used to buy a mass spectrometer to conduct low temperature and environmental geochemistry experiments.

IL-12 gene therapy reduces tumors University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute researchers have determined that injecting cells genetically engineered with the genes for the hormone-like substance, interleukin-12 (IL-12), can significantly reduce tumors in some patients with advanced cancer. This gene therapy successfully reduced tumors in 28% of patients treated.

health insurance offerings Researchers from the Graduate School of Public Health and the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business have received a $400,000 two-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study how changes in health insurance offerings affect employees. The results from the study will increase understanding of the impact of market developments on decisions related to employer-offered health insurance.

learning in museums The Learning Research and Development Center has been awarded a cooperative agreement from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities to study how learning occurs in museums. The Museum Learning Collaborative will study learning in a variety of museums, such as art, history, natural history, children's and science museums as well as zoos and botanical gardens.

computer fault tolerance Researchers in the Department of Computer Science have been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to study fault tolerance in real-time systems. Fault tolerance is the ability of a system to tolerate faults and continue to execute within the required specifications of time and function. For example, if a computer controlling a robot arm fails, another computer will take over these functions, so that the arm will continue to operate.

documentation of resources and technology transfer project The Department of Telecommunications in the School of Information Sciences has received $887,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to study access to the current technological infrastructure and resources of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; to build a capable architectural model suitable for the 21st century; to determine how current technology can be integrated for the model and what additional infrastructure components are required for the model; and to provide a readily accessible and current database of technological and related resources in Pennsylvania for analysis, modeling, and reporting purposes.

interacting with spouse lowers blood pressure a researcher in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has determined that study participants had comparatively lower blood pressure readings during spousal interaction, whether in distressed on non-distressed marriages. The study's purpose was to determine how a variety of psychological variables, including spousal interaction, affected short-term blood pressure.

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Office of Institutional Research
University of Pittsburgh Fact Book, 1997