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OU Receives Federal Funding to ‘Intensify’ Research Impact

December 19, 2023

OU Receives Federal Funding to ‘Intensify’ Research Impact


The University of Oklahoma is one of 18 U.S. academic institutions to receive the first-ever Accelerating Research Translation awards from the National Science Foundation. The $6 million award distributed over four years is intended to enable institutions to accelerate the pace and scale of translational research that will grow the nation’s economy.

Led by the University of Oklahoma, “The Intensifying Translational Research in Oklahoma” (InTRO) project will accelerate the translation of research findings into processes and products for societal benefit. InTRO will also provide workforce development for future engineers and scientists to sustain the accelerated pace of translational impact.

“As Oklahoma’s premier research institution, OU plays a vital role in driving economic growth – from educating a highly qualified workforce to spearheading the innovation that propels our state forward,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “OU’s leadership in the InTRO project exemplifies our commitment to being an economic engine for our state’s future.”

InTRO will create a network of resources and activities that converges fundamental research expertise from the strategic research centers and institutes established through the university’s strategic plan; commercialization expertise from OU’s Office of Innovation and Corporate Partnerships and regional innovation partners; community engagement and professional development expertise from the OU Center for Faculty Excellence; and translational education expertise from the OU Polytechnic Institute, working together to support translating proof-of-concept ideas into prototypes.

“Research-intensive universities provide an unparalleled value to economic development and the rapid innovation of the technologies and services that can address the most pressing global grand challenges,” said OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships Tomás Díaz de la Rubia. “InTRO will create a scalable and sustainable infrastructure to help researchers enhance their research translation skills and provide new knowledge by evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of these supports, amplifying OU’s role in driving impactful translational research for the benefit of our state’s economic prosperity.”

The project will create an Accelerating Research Translation Academy to provide training on specific aspects of research translation. The ART Academy program will cover research translation, partnerships and collaborations, and ethics, as well as workforce training and development. The ART Academy will also provide funding to train graduate students and postdocs who are interested in translational research careers.

Additionally, the funding will support an InTRO Seed Translational Research Project program that incentivizes the advancement of early-stage projects. Teams who are awarded STRP grants will receive funding to enable the translation of their proof-of-concept ideas into ready-for-use solutions or products in under two years.

David Ebert, principal investigator for InTRO and director of OU’s Data Institute for Societal Challenges, says the project will also accelerate STEM career pathways by involving graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who want to make positive societal impacts.

“These efforts will facilitate the entry of research findings into tangible products for use by the general public that would otherwise have been stranded in academic literature, unleashing innovative and economic competitiveness in Oklahoma and the United States more broadly,” Ebert said.

Co-principle investigators for OU’s InTRO project include Shane Connelly, director of the OU Institute for Community and Societal Transformation; Brittany Hott, associate director of ICAST and associate professor in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education; Clara Smith, associate director of the OU Center for Faculty Excellence; and John Hanak, chief innovation and corporate officer at OU.