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UCSD research grants in November top $44 million

The University of California San Diego received grants totaling more than $44 million in November from several sources, funding projects including studies on greenhouse gases and health, and geological surveys.

Since July 1, the start of the University of California’s 2013-14 fiscal year, UCSD has received more than $378.5 million for research, according to a report from the university's Office of Contract and Grant Administration. That's down more than $22 million from where the university stood at the same point during fiscal 2013.

On a rolling 12-month comparison, however, UCSD's grant activity through November 2013 outperformed the period ending November 2012 by 1 percent, or roughly $7.6 million.

The largest grant received in November was $4.32 million from AstraZeneca HealthCare. The funded project is a clinical trial with a new AstraZeneca compound to determine its safety and assess its potential in a subgroup of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

UCSD clinical instructor Dr. Michael Choi said the patients have a specific genetic profile that may maximize the therapeutic index of the drug, known as AZD6738.

The study hasn't received previous funding, and is expected to run about two years, Choi said. It's a multicenter trial and UCSD will be the lead site.

UCSD's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics received another of the largest awards in November 2013, more than $1.7 million to study the geological structure of the continental-oceanic margin off Uruguay.

The grant, awarded by the British multinational oil and gas company BG Group PLC, will fund the gathering of data that will help plan future programs for oil and gas exploration while addressing basic academic questions, said Steven Constable, UCSD professor of geophysics.

"This is a new project," Constable said. "The contract will finish this year, but the data will form the basis of a Ph.D. student's work over the next few years."

Several federal grants of $500,000 or more also went to UCSD in November 2013, including from NASA's Shared Services Center; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and the National Eye Institute.

The $761,000 grant from the NASA Shared Services Center for the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment Collaborative Research Project is one of two that provides one year of support for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography's component of a multiyear, long-term international collaboration.

The entire study will measure and interpret the global atmospheric distributions of more than 50 non-CO2 greenhouse gases and substances that deplete stratospheric ozone.

Ray Weiss, UCSD distinguished research professor of geochemistry, said the related grant of $212.5 million, also awarded in November 2013, will support the remote measurement stations for the project. The project's goal, Weiss said, is to quantify the emissions and atmospheric lifetimes of the gases using "top-down" methods based on measuring changes in their atmospheric abundances.

The more than $606,000 from the National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood will fund research tracking asymptomatic heart-failure patients and their depressed mood and functional capacity. Dr. Paul Mills, professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at UCSD, is the principal investigator for the grant, and said the aim is to understand the contributions of depression on heart failure.

The $544,000 from the National Eye Institute will help develop methods to preserve neuronal function in stroke and other neuro-degenerative diseases, said Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg, director of research at the UCSD Shiley Eye Center.

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