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UM Research Gets A Boost In State Funding

Two University of Montana programs will share over $3.5 million in state research funds. UM's traumatic brain injury and water quality monitoring programs are among the first to benefit from the "Montana University System Research Initiative". That's a $15 million program that passed out of the last session of the Montana legislature.

Governor Steve Bullock says the research initiative is designed to encourage innovation in traditional and emerging industries.

"Through increased collaboration between the state, higher education and private industry we're finding more and more ways to increase the interconnectivity of all those three parties and start moving ideas to market and generating economic activity as a result."

UM President Royce Engstrom says UM is on its way to becoming a "research powerhouse" in several key areas.

"With this new support from the state, combined with support from the federal government and private foundations, our research teams will make contributions that propel our society forward," Engstrom says.

State lawmakers passed the research initiative with bipartisan support last session.

One of UM's winning projects addresses traumatic brain injury research. That team is led by assistant research professor Sarj Patel. Patel says part of the grant will be used to develop new technologies to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries.

"We've also partnered with industry to really help drive these technologies to the market and commercialize them for the benefit of all the people of Montana and then hopefully further afield through the country and then throughout the world."

Montana ranks second in the nation for traumatic brain injuries.

Almost $1.3 million was also awarded to UM chemistry professor Chris Palmer's team that's developing new tech to continuously monitor water quality, especially in remote areas.

The winners were selected from over 200 proposals statewide.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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