Research Nets $2.5 Million in Grants For UH Professors

Funding for 21 faculty is second-highest amount given to any Texas institution

The University of Houston is focusing on becoming a top-tier research university, and the UH faculty are responding. Recently, 21 UH professors were awarded more than $2.5 million in research grants through the Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program (ARP), ranking second only to The University of Texas at Austin.

Projects by these UH professors include developing catalysts to use with alternative fuels, making pharmaceuticals to treat high blood pressure in diabetic patients, creating highly believable and expressive animated talking faces, and producing antibiotics to test their effectiveness in killing certain forms of cancer.

UH was one of 25 institutions that received money from the competitive, peer-reviewed grant program that funds scientific and engineering research projects of faculty members at Texas higher education institutions.

The 21 professors awarded included faculty from the Cullen College of Engineering, the College of Optometry, the College of Pharmacy and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

“These awards underscore the role the University of Houston researchers play in addressing some of the grand challenges facing our nation and world,” said Donald L. Birx, vice chancellor for research for the UH System and vice president for research for UH. “UH is the energy capital’s university and an increasingly important player in the biomedical sciences.”

Several UH professors were awarded $150,000, the most money possible, including Alison McDermott, an associate professor with the College of Optometry. McDermott is developing an antimicrobial peptide – an antibiotic – to test its effectiveness in killing off cancer cells in the eye.

Tahir Hussain, an associate professor with the College of Pharmacy, also received a $150,000 grant for research in developing a drug to reduce blood pressure in diabetic patients and protect them from kidney failure.

Zhigang Deng, an assistant professor with the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, received $107,000 to use an array of cameras and detectors attached to the body to capture the rich styles and subtleties of human motion – making the 3-D animation of humans more accurate and realistic.

Dmitri Litvinov and Paul Ruchoeft, both associate professors with the Cullen College of Engineering, were awarded nearly $150,000 to continue their research into a nano-fabrication technique that could result in more powerful, reliable computing devices.

Of the more than 1,900 proposals submitted for 2007, only 147 were awarded money. UH submitted 49 proposals and was awarded money for 21, which is significantly more than the eight awarded in 2006 totaling $666,000. The next closest schools to UH’s funding level for 2007 were Texas A&M University at $1.6 million and UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas with $1.5 million. The two-year grants were announced in April 2008 at a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board meeting.

For a complete list of winners and more information about the Norman Hackerman ARP awards, visit

About the University of Houston The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

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