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Shaheen Applauds UNH’s Selection As Lead Institution to Spearhead $6M Research Project on Biotechnology

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) ), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations subcommittee, and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) along with Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01), congratulated the University of New Hampshire (UNH) for being chosen to lead a prestigious $6 million research project in biosensor design, biotechnology and engineering industries.

UNH will receive $3.6 million of the total $6 million budget over four years as the lead institution. Auburn University, the University of New England, the University of Wyoming and the University of Maine are also partners on the research project, which will help develop on-demand biosensors for biomanufacturing processors and build skilled workforces in New Hampshire, Alabama, Maine and Wyoming. Funding comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which Shaheen oversees funding for through her leadership on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“I’m thrilled that UNH was selected to spearhead a groundbreaking $6 million research project on biotechnology. As Chair of the subcommittee that funds the NSF, securing funding to propel American excellence in science and innovation is a top priority of mine – I’m particularly excited to see this funding awarded to UNH, a premier research institution,” said Senator Shaheen. “As we continue to recover from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, it’s important we invest in groundbreaking research and a skilled workforce to advance fast-growing industries like biotechnology.” 

“Developing American biotechnology leadership is necessary for our country to remain at the forefront of medical and manufacturing innovations, and there is no doubt that New England, with its top-tier universities and hospitals, will be the home of some of the best and brightest advances in biotech,” said Senator Hassan. “Today’s significant grant recognizes UNH’s leadership in this field, and I look forward to seeing the innovation and discoveries that this grant will help fuel right here in New Hampshire.” 

“Granite State scientists and researchers are leading the way forward for our country, developing innovative solutions to some of the world’s most complex issues – in order to continue this work, we must equip them with the resources they need,” said Representative Kuster. “I’m thrilled that the University of New Hampshire is receiving this National Science Foundation (NSF) award to promote advancements in biotechnology. I will continue to support Granite Staters as they work to make the world a better, safer place for all.” 

“It’s welcome news UNH will receive these funds to further their biomanufacturing research, critical work which will support the growth of the entire industry,” said Representative Pappas. “New Hampshire’s colleges and universities do incredibly important work in research and development, and I’ll keep fighting to ensure key projects like this one receive the funding they need.”

Right now, biomanufacturing industries are not limited by a lack of production mechanisms, but rather by a lack of effective tools for monitoring quality in real time,” said Jeffrey M. Halpern, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at UNH and Lead Principle Investigator on the grant. “The collective work of my laboratory with partners in Alabama, Maine and Wyoming will address this current limitation by creating affordable on-demand sensors needed to continuously monitor proteins in the biomanufacturing process. The NSF grant will allow us to take full advantage of the anticipated growth in the biotechnology and advance manufacturing sectors, which will be important drivers of the economy in the coming decades.”

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has worked to secure New Hampshire priorities. In the Fiscal Year 2021 funding legislation, Shaheen secured $8.49 billion – more than $200 million higher than the prior year’s level – for the NSF. This funding will support U.S. competitiveness in key areas like quantum computing, artificial intelligence and climate science, as well as help build an innovative workforce fueled by a diverse pipeline of scientists and engineers. The NSF supports research, innovation, and discovery to build a strong foundation for economic growth in this country.