Since March, Johns Hopkins faculty and research staff
have aggressively pursued grant dollars
created by the federal government's economic stimulus
package. University administrators hope that
the money — some of which is already in the pipeline
— will energize science and spin the wheels of job
creation across the divisions.
The National Institutes of Health and the National
Science Foundation earlier this year
received $12.4 billion to award in research grants as part
of the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009, which stipulates that most of the money be
spent within two years. The peer-reviewed
competitions organized by these two federal agencies began
in late March, when applications for
scientific instrumentation were due.
Last month alone, Johns Hopkins faculty and research
staff submitted 645 grant proposals to
NIH and NSF for funding under the ARRA; the total amount
requested surpassed $358 million.
(Overall for April, Johns Hopkins applied for funds of $583
million as part of 948 proposals
submitted, more than three times the average amount for
this time of year.)
To date, five stimulus grant applications have been
funded and more are expected to be soon,
according to Scott Zeger, acting provost and senior vice
president for academic affairs.
Zeger said that Johns Hopkins faculty and support
staff have worked tirelessly the past two
months to secure vital funding that would benefit the
university and, in turn, the region.
"These funds could represent a generous stimulus to
the local economy. They also allow us to
retain staff for investigators who may not have had their
federal grants refunded," Zeger said.
"Practically speaking, the money will be used not just
directly for research but for building projects,
equipment and the expansion of research spaces that will
allow us in turn to add additional staff over
The grants were submitted by researchers at the
schools of Arts and Sciences, Engineering,
Medicine, Nursing and Public Health. The funds would
support such projects as an annex to Clark Hall
for new wet lab space, intended in part for future
collaborations with the East Baltimore schools; the
retrofitting of labs at the schools of Medicine and Public
Health; and research that runs the gamut
from biomedicine to the physical sciences.
In preparation for positions created by the infusion
of economic stimulus-related funding, the
university held a job fair on May 2 in order to identify
experienced professionals and technicians for
specialized science and administrative jobs, including
laboratory work, information technology, grants
and contracts, and finance.
More than 1,200 people registered for the event,
according to Cherita Hobbs, a senior human
resources director at the Bloomberg School of Public Health
and one of the organizers of the Science
and Research Job Fair. Hobbs said that the number of
possible open positions is not yet known and will
depend on the number of stimulus-funded research grants
"But the whole point of the stimulus is to create jobs
as quickly as possible to get the economy
moving, and we want to be ready to hire when grant money
becomes available to the university," Hobbs
said. "I was very pleased with the turnout and the
diversity of the applicants. The fair built a pipeline
of potential candidates so we'll be ready when the time
The job opportunities would last at least 18 months
and come with regular Johns Hopkins
University benefits. Some positions could lead to permanent
ones, Zeger said. Stimulus jobs supported
by external grant funding from agencies such as NIH and NSF
are not subject to the university's
recently announced hiring freeze.
Zeger said that the impact of these funds could be
significant, both in terms of job creation
and scientific discovery.
"We are excited about the opportunities that ARRA
provides for Johns Hopkins to make
important contributions to knowledge and at the same time
help turn the economic tide," said Zeger,
who has coordinated the university's preparations to gear
up for stimulus-related research work.
Since February, a group of key university
administrators, scientists and staff has met every
Thursday to assess the stimulus package and how Johns
Hopkins can take advantage of the funds.
Zeger calls the group "the stimulators."
"They have done an incredible job of getting us ready
to be in the position that we are in.
They've been on the lookout for direct actions to take," he
Johns Hopkins has been the leading U.S. academic
institution in total research and development
spending for 29 years in a row. Zeger said that Johns
Hopkins wants to continue to lead the way.
"Johns Hopkins is the largest private employer in
Baltimore and in Maryland, and, with its
expenditures in research, teaching, patient care,
construction and other areas, has helped to insulate
the region against the worst of the recession," Zeger said.
"We are working very hard to take full
advantage of the opportunities afforded by the stimulus to
advance health and to help promote
Submissions for stimulus-funded research support,
Zeger said, will continue until July. Grants
will be funded from now through September 2010.