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Bridge Funds Program

The strength and reputation of a research university is inseparably tied to the continuous achievement of high quality research by its faculty. A great deal of university research and scholarship requires funding from external sources. Faculty research at UH has been supported from a multitude of sources, ranging from long-established federal agencies (such NEA, NEH, NIH, NSF, DOE, DOD and NASA), state and local government agencies (such as CPRIT), private foundations (for example American Cancer Society, the Petroleum Research Fund), and private industrial grants, contracts, and partnerships (for example from Shell, Pfizer). The availability of these funds has fluctuated over time, depending on governmental and agency budget decisions as well as the overall economic climate. In recent years, competition for all of the funds that support research, both public and private, has increased considerably and the percentage of all applications that are successfully funded has dramatically decreased to historically low levels, requiring multiple applications to obtain funding for research and scholarship projects.

Scholars with long track records of productivity have often spent many years working with highly trained personnel and specialized equipment essential to running the laboratory and maintaining continuity. In many cases, these staff have unique skill sets that cannot be readily replaced, even if funding is restored some time later. Organizationally, a funding gap for a scientist with loss of these highly trained staff necessitates retraining once funding is restored; meaning significantly diminished productivity and loss of faculty competitive edge.

The conclusion is that it is in the best interest of universities to protect and foster the research careers of productive scholars from factors that may lead to early termination of productivity. In recognition of this, most top tier research universities have set aside funds to provide a bridge to support productive faculty who face a gap in their funds. The purpose of the present document is to describe a similar program that will be administered by the Division of Research at the University of Houston.