Pitt is investing in change this summer, beginning with projects from professors at the University. The first-ever Pitt Seed Project awarded a total of more than $1 million to 23 programs designed to play an instrumental role in transforming the University.
The grants will fund a wide range of faculty-proposed studies, community partnerships and workshops, ranging from efforts to treat birth defects, reduce inmate recidivism and advance research into better water use.
Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced the grant program in January, and by the March deadline 171 faculty members had applied for funding. Those applicants were eventually cut to the final 23 announced recipients.
“We launched Pitt Seed to directly engage our university community members in enriching our mission and advancing the Plan for Pitt,” Gallagher said in an email. “The response from faculty and staff members has been overwhelming — and it underscores the idea that everyone can play a part in driving meaningful and powerful change at Pitt.”
Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Kurt Weiss received a $50,000 grant to fund the Pittsburgh Sarcoma Research Collaborative, or PSaRC — a project that will aim to develop new therapeutic strategies and eventually improve sarcoma patient care and outcomes.
Weiss said the Pitt Seed program will help Pitt establish itself as a leader in sarcoma research.
“The Pitt Seed grant will help us on our goal to make the University of Pittsburgh a destination center for excellence for sarcoma research and treatment,” Weiss said.
PSaRC is a multidisciplinary team of researchers and physicians which focuses on sarcomas — rare cancerous tumors that afflict both children and adults. Treatment strategies and resulting outcomes for adult and pediatric sarcoma patients have not changed in the last 30 years — making them especially dangerous.
Weiss’ $50,000 grant was more than the average grant amount of $43,822 across the 23 projects. A grant for $47,872 was awarded to the Pitt Prison Education Project, a program that teaches joint classes for inmates at the State Correctional Institution in Fayette County and Pitt students.
Dr. Chris Bonneau, an associate professor of political science, teaches in the program. The money, he said, will go toward training additional faculty, broadening the scope of the program and tutoring.
“The grant will also put us in a position to better reach our goal of a prison education center at Pitt,” Bonneau added.